Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are to benefit from $3 billion in loans and grant support through partnership between the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).
Under the DBJ’s Social and Economic Recovery and Vaccine (SERVE) Jamaica Programme, which was officially launched on Wednesday (September 15), the entities will have access to funds to digitise their operations to better serve clients as well as recover from the economic fallout that has affected their cash flows.
The funds will be disbursed via partner financial institutions, including DBJ-approved financial institutions as well as entities such as credit unions and micro-credit establishments.
Three newly created products are being provided to MSMEs under the programme – MSME recovery loan facility; Go-Digital loan facility; and a Go-Digital Grant.
Finance Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, in his address at the launch held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, explained that the $2-billion MSME recovery loan facility will allow entities to access up to $10 million at a rate of five per cent.
“This loan can be used to address cash-flow deficiencies and refinance existing debt that might be too onerous [for entities] to undertake at this time,” he noted.
In addition, the $1-billion Go-Digital loan facility enables MSMEs with sales of less than $425 million to borrow up to $800,000, with a three-year repayment period at a rate of two per cent per annum.
Through the Go-Digital Grant, MSMEs with sales of less than $75 million, can access up to $300,000 to digitise their operations.
“Businesses can use these proceeds to transform their [operations] by acquiring the appropriate software that allows them to handle their customer, human resource or accounting needs and, therefore, [position] them in a more resilient position to face this pandemic,” Dr. Clarke noted.
The Minister, who addressed the launch remotely, pointed out that COVID-19 has delivered a “massive shock” to MSMEs, which, he noted, “are facing challenges at this time”.
Dr. Clarke maintained that MSMEs are the “backbone” of the Jamaican economy “and, therefore, we have to be concerned at this time when MSMEs are particularly affected by the impact of the COVID pandemic”.
“The policy response of the Government is to provide financial support to MSMEs in a way that allows them to withstand the pressures brought by the pandemic,” he emphasised.
Dr. Clarke advised that the funding support will be in place until March 31, 2022, and, against this background, urged the operators of MSMEs to take advantage of the product offerings from the DBJ.
DBJ Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, for his part, advised that eight institutions have already expressed their interest in participating in the programme.
These, he said. include commercial banks, credit unions, and microfinance institutions, adding that more than $700 million in commitments has, so far, been received.
For more information on the DBJ SERVE programme, persons can visit the bank’s website, www.dbjserve.com; use the their ‘DBJ Please Contact Me’ form and WhatsApp line – 876-371-3830; or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.