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The Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise (MSME) and Entrepreneurship Policy, which is up for review in 2023, will provide an opportunity for improvements to ensure greater financial inclusion, particularly for persons with disabilities.

The Policy, prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, was last updated in 2018.

It creates a framework that offers coordinated, coherent and targeted support to the MSME sector in an effort to expand its contribution.

Among its goals are to create an enabling business environment that results in growing levels of formality in the economy; encourage a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation that promotes creativity, research and development in business operations and throughout the education system; and provide for seamless integration of cross-cutting issues into major programmes to ensure inclusive growth.

Minister of State in the Ministry, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn, in a statement, said that work continues with partners and stakeholders, including the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), to create greater access for more members of the disabled community.

The objective, he said, is to ensure that business owners and employees who may be members of the disabled community are given every opportunity to pursue their lawful business objectives.

“In fact, goal number two of the Policy articulates affordable and appropriate financing. It emphasises information dissemination activities for persons with disabilities on available financing opportunities,” he noted.

The Minister’s statement was delivered by Principal Director in the MSME Division, Oral Shaw, during a hybrid webinar at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) offices, downtown Kingston on Thursday (December 1).

He noted that like most players in the global business community, persons with disabilities require access to affordable and appropriate financing, business development and expansion services, training resources, tools and corporate networks and partnerships.

He argued that the cost of financial exclusion for any member of the society, particularly those living with disabilities is too high.

“Businesses are affected; social safety structures, families, caregivers, communities and the general growth prospects of our economy are all weakened if nothing is done. Failure to ensure equal access to financial services not only violates important human rights entrenchments [but] it also stands in the way of investment opportunities and general living conditions,” he pointed out.

Senior Deputy Governor, BOJ, Dr. Wayne Robinson, in his remarks said that promoting financial inclusion is one of the major activities of the Bank.

He argued that no country or society can achieve any sort of meaningful development unless it is inclusive.

“In addition to education, a key element of this inclusivity is ensuring that the population can access and utilise basic financial services and products,” he noted.

Dr. Robinson said that persons living with disabilities, like any other stakeholder, are an important source of wealth and value creation for the Jamaican society and economy.

“We feel that it is very important and essential that we target this segment of the population, to ensure that they also are empowered to fully participate in the economy through greater knowledge and access to financial services,” he said.

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