State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, says the Government will continue to provide the necessary support to assist entrepreneurs to get off the ground and to successfully commercialise their business ideas, using the widest range of models available.
“We see the fostering of start-ups and early-stage ventures as an important pillar in the country’s business strategy,” Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said.
The State Minister was speaking at the opening of Access Financial Services Limited’s newest branch, at Duke Street, downtown Kingston, on March 16.
She noted that the country’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, benefitted from some $2.45 billion in loan disbursements last year.
The loans were provided through wholesale lenders, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); Micro Investment Development Agency(MIDA); the National Insurance Fund (NIF); and Pan Caribbean Financial Services Limited.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said some 10,355 stakeholders benefitted from the disbursements, with their business ventures yielding approximately 8,691 jobs.
In this regard, she assured that financing the sector is a “major priority area of the Government."
The State Minister pointed out, however, that disbursements demonstrated a certain “reticence to borrow,” as well as the inability of MSME clients to meet borrowing requirements, such as a good credit rating, and the provision of collateral.
“It is for reasons, such as these, that we welcome the introduction of Credit Bureaus; and we are now making significant strides towards establishing a secured transactions framework,” she indicated.
Noting that at least one credit bureau licence has already been granted, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said that with the full introduction of this facility, “greater efficiency will be introduced into the MSME loan market, thereby increasing access to finance and reducing lending rates to borrowers with a good credit history."
Regarding secured transaction, the State Minister advised that borrowers will be able to “pledge” moveable property in a manner that fully establishes and preserves property rights.
Access Financial Services Limited is Jamaica’s leading provider of small business, micro business, and personal loans. Its newest branch is the 14th such outlet opened since the entity commenced operations in 2000.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter