JIS News

The first of four stakeholder consultations to give micro and small business operators in Kingston, Portmore and surrounding communities an opportunity to get vital information on how to access credit, was held at the Portmore HEART Academy on August 29.Michelle Scott, Chairman of the Research Committee, a sub-committee of the National Organizing Committee of the International Year of Micro Credit, told JIS News that the consultations would serve a dual role.
“Aside from providing a forum, which allows stakeholders in the micro and small business sector to get information about accessing credit for the survival of their businesses, they would allow them an opportunity to find out what’s happening on the ground, how micro entrepreneurs are faring, what are their needs and what government can do to provide further assistance to benefit the sector,” she said.
The series of consultations are being held under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), which has declared 2005 as the International Year of Micro Credit, and will culminate with a conference in November.
Mrs. Scott pointed out that the workshops will also provide an opportunity to recommend changes at the policy level, as it related to the sector. “We will see what partnerships the government and the private sector can form to bridge any gaps that might exist ahead of the November conference, so the consultations become an important platform to inform the conference of what needs to be tabled,” she said.
She pointed out that the other three consultations would be held in St. Thomas, St. Ann and St. Elizabeth. “St. Thomas is chosen because of its focus on agriculture.St. Ann, because of tourism and St. Elizabeth as a major farming area. We want to focus the consultations on the various industries that are prevalent in each zone,” she added.
In Portmore, questions were raised about interest rates, marketing, and access to credit. Resource persons were on hand from several organizations to respond to the concerns, including the Jamaica Business Development Centre, National Development Foundation of Jamaica and Pan Caribbean Financial Services.
The next consultation is scheduled for St. Thomas on September 12.