JIS News

Story Highlights

  • SSF is projecting to lend more than $100 million to the MSME sector for the 2014/15 period, leading to the creation of over 1,000 jobs.
  • The entity provides loans to micro and small entrepreneurs and individuals, who are unable to access financing from traditional institutions.
  • Over the past five years, the SSF has disbursed 617 loans valued at over $200 million, and created 2,144 jobs.

The Self Start Fund (SSF) is projecting to lend more than $100 million to the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector for the 2014/15 period, leading to the creation of over 1,000 jobs.

Established by the government in 1983, the entity provides loans to micro and small entrepreneurs and individuals, who are unable to access financing from traditional institutions.

General Manager of the SSF, Sezvin Hamilton, tells JIS News that the entity provides loans to persons involved in agriculture, trading, services and manufacturing-type businesses, up to a maximum of $750,000. The interest rate is 23 per cent per annum.

He informs that over the past five years, the SSF has disbursed 617 loans valued at over $200 million, and created 2,144 jobs.

“Our loan policy admits everyone or all persons doing business and in particular small and micro businesses…we interview them and provide them with an application form, which sets out quite a lot and require documents that they have to produce as proof that they are operating legitimate businesses,” Mr. Hamilton explains.

In terms of the repayment period, the General Manager points out that this does not usually exceed 24 months, and is dependent on the loan terms.

“We would look in terms of what the person is doing and how much they are borrowing, how much they can pay based on their financial projection, cash flow, financial statements and all relevant documents, so that we can determine with the customer, how much they can manage to pay and that will guide us as to how long we should make the loan,” the General Manager outlines.

He tells JIS News that in order to further strengthen the MSME sector, the SSF is currently on a mission to rebrand and reposition itself, bearing in mind the evolving business environment and global trends.

Mr. Hamilton informs that the entity is looking to strategically place itself in areas of great demand for micro-financing and is seeking to create innovative business products for small business owners, who wish to grow by providing various continued services for the Logistics Hub initiative.

“The SSF is looking to engage its clients in training and putting together all that is necessary with the assistance of entities like the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Companies Office of Jamaica and Bureau of Standards Jamaica, to ensure that they are grounded on the right path and are able to sustain their business and its longevity,” the General Manager informs.

On the issue of product offering, he says that “we currently have one main product but we realize that in order to attract our customers, we should have differentiated products, so we may create a JUS START Loan, a Continued Business Loan and others differentiated by interest rates and loan size.”

As it relates to expanding its services, the General Manager says that consideration is being given for the establishment of additional locations as the SSF currently operates from its Parkington and Yallahs branches in Kingston and St. Thomas, respectively.

“We have been looking for new office locations as the idea is to get the money out there to the people where they find it convenient and where we can monitor them effectively,” Mr. Hamilton notes.

He tells JIS News that the SSF is proud of having paved the way for many micro organizations over its 30-year history and “we are keeping hope alive as we rebrand and make way for greater things.”

“We are saying to persons, look, we are …getting more into business so look out for the next set of products that are geared towards enhancing your business,” he expresses.

Mr. Hamilton says that “the amount of money that SSF turns over is in the billions over the 30 years, and we have provided jobs for several thousands of persons as many of these entities and individuals, who borrow money from us, do employ persons.

“So we have achievements in the amount of money we have turned over; how much we have actually lent; how many businesses we have provided funds for; how many have graduated and gone into the big leagues, and can now deal with formal banks,” he says.

For more information on the offerings of the SSF, persons may visit the offices at 10a Parkington Plaza, Kingston 10 or call 929-8441-2.