A total of five financial institutions and the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) were on hand to endorse and sign a memorandum of understanding respectively, for the Corporate Finance Broker (CFB) Unit set up by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).
The organisations are First Global Bank, SBAJ, and Jamaica Cooperative Credit Union League- all of which endorsed the Unit; while the National Commercial Bank, National Development Foundation of Jamaica and the City of Kingston Credit Union signed a MOU.
The Unit which was officially launched on Tuesday, January 31 in Kingston will offer financial assistance to all Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) participating in the EU/GoJ Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The companies to benefit are those which have met the eligibility criteria for funding from the PSDP.
In the main address, junior Minister in the Industry and Tourism Ministry, Hon. Wykeham McNeill said “it is not enough for us to declare priority for social objectives or for poverty alleviation, but it is also critical that we ensure that our economies can truly be part of the mainstream of global trade and investment.”
He added that “the small and medium enterprises are the ones to impact on the transformation of our economy.” Research has shown that SMEs account fro 90 per cent of all industries globally contributing to 50 per cent of GDSP worldwide; while in Jamaica and the Caribbean there is an estimated 35 to 40 per cent.
The Minister emphasised the need for efficiency, productivity and capability of the SMEs to grow. “This is undermined by relatively low levels of technical and managerial skills along with the obstacles being faced in receiving financial and capital resources,” the Minister noted. He thinks the CFB can help to fill those gaps.
JAMPRO President, Patricia Francis, gave the commitment of her organisation to continue to facilitate the development and growth of the SME sector through its programmes and “we must move decisively to remove some of the barriers to business and boost the operational capacity of firms.”
The President was clear in indicating that “with the improved health of our SMEs, will come increased investments and capital injection which will act as a catalyst for further growth in the economy.”
The EU was represented by Carlo Pettinato, First Secretary of the European Delegation, who reflected on the Trade Development Programme (which was also implemented by JAMPRO) and said “the value of the PSDP contribution was the emphasis being placed on SMEs and the impact it has on developing economies.”
The PSDP is a four-year technical assistance programme jointly funded by the EU and GoJ and is geared at enhancing Jamaican private sector competitiveness, in response to the challenges resulting from increased globalization and liberalization of markets.
The total budget for the project is €28.67 million, representing €20 million in grant funds from the EU, with the remainder representing the contribution of the GoJ, as well as of beneficiaries engaged in specific activities.