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JIS News

Entrepreneurs in St. Thomas recently benefited from valuable information as to how to access loans to improve on and to start their own businesses at a mirco credit forum organised by the National Organizing Committee for the International Year of Micro Credit.
The panel, which included representatives of the Small Business Association, National Development Foundation, Small Business Loan Foundation, and the University of the West Indies, responded to questions on how to access credit and sport for business training, among other things.
The participants, who represented a wide range of industries including shoemaking, pig and poultry rearing and eco tourism, were advised as to where they could go for assistance, what to say and how to create associations with more established organizations doing the same type of business.
They also wanted answers on the interest rates charged and on the collateral requested by banks and other lending institutions.
“From the questions asked, we really got a feel of what are the industries in St. Thomas and the type of support needed,” said Michelle Scott, chairperson for the research committee. “That is important as it helps to determine the type of loan products to offer and overall, what type of support is needed for the parish,” she told JIS News.
In fact, Mrs. Scott said one entrepreneur, who complained of not getting enough support from lending agencies to buy material was directed to a “big business firm” in Kingston in the same product line.
“That firm in Kingston”, she reasoned, “would likely have an established source for raw materials and so he could be assisted to see what could be worked out.” Persons were also directed to the Jamaica Business Development Centre, which provides training for persons receiving small business loans.
“The interaction was truly refreshing,” Mrs. Scott pointed out. “Persons applauded when questions were raised regarding issues they wanted answers to and applauded again when the answers were given, which was to their liking,” she said, adding that, “they left the forum feeling satisfied, knowing that they had information that they could use.”
The forum, which also attracted participants from Portland and St. Mary, was part of a series of micro credit consultations being held across the island, to mark 2005 as the International Year of Micro Credit.
Mrs. Scott said the sessions had been a success so far and “justifies our decision to not stay in Kingston and decide to just have a national conference but rather to go out to the parishes in the different areas where you have particular industries going and to get feedback from on the ground.”
The next consultation will be held in St. Elizabeth at the end of the month.