JIS News

Small and micro businesses are responsible for approximately 33.9 per cent employment in the country, Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba has revealed.
She explained that in light of this, the Government would continue to make a special effort to facilitate the development of competitive and dynamic small enterprises that could contribute to wealth generation and job creation.
Making her budget presentation in the House of Representatives yesterday (April 21), the Minister said that “the current thinking is that modern economics are not based on big business but on small, innovative, flexible enterprises”.
Worldwide, these enterprises account for over 90 per cent of all industries and about 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Facilitated by the information technology revolution, which had created abundant opportunities, Mrs. Assamba said the share of employment accounted for by small and micro businesses, was expanding.
She pointed out that while businesses of all sizes required access to appropriate financing, smaller businesses had historically been at a disadvantage in this area, adding that this was why the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA) was established in 1992. Since then, the aggregate investment and reinvestment to the sector has exceeded $1 billion, she added.
“Over the past year, MIDA pursued a policy of assisting in the development of the micro enterprise sector, through the provision of financial products and services, while networking with stakeholders in the sector to facilitate the delivery of non-financial services,” she informed. For 2003/04, MIDA disbursed $215.82 million to the micro enterprise sector, representing an increase of 46.62 per cent over the previous year.
A total of 1,996 micro businesses were financed through the Agency’s network of 16 Community Development Funds (CDFs). For 2004/05 MIDA will provide $200 million in credit funds to the sector through its CDFs. This is to finance an estimated 2,080 micro businesses, with an average loan size of just over $96,000. In turn, these businesses are expected to sustain and create 2,920 full and part time jobs.
Turning to the Self Start Fund (SSF), the Minister said the process of rationalization and revamping of the Fund’s regional network to bring its cost structure in line with its current revenue potential, had already began to reap success. Coming from a monthly deficit of $1.2 million, prior to the rationalization process in September 2003, the Fund recorded a surplus of $300,000 as at March 2004.
In the 2003/2004 financial year, the SSF disbursed over $10 million to some 150 entrepreneurs, creating new employment for 83 persons. The Fund currently supports a client base of close to 800 entrepreneurs for a portfolio balance of $80 million.
Mrs. Assamba noted that the Ministry had brokered a new strategic alliance among the SSF, the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) and MIDA, which has resulted “in a more collaborative relationship that better serves the sector and creates synergies that are improving the effectiveness of these agencies”.
Policies and programmes in the small and micro sector, coupled with private sector initiatives such as those of Development Options Limited, Jamaica National Small Business Loan Limited, Pan Caribbean Financial Services Limited, and Bank of Nova Scotia Micro Enterprise Financing Limited, resulted in the creation of 17,150 new jobs in 2003. This was an increase of 30.3 per cent over 2002, the Minister said.

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