Thu | Jul 19, 2018

JN wants government to give diaspora more access to invest in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | April 19, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Managing Director of JN Bank, Maureen Hayden-Cater, has urged the Government to establish more concrete avenues for Jamaicans in the diaspora to contribute to the development of the nation.

While acknowledging the work of Government, she said there are many opportunities for the financial sector to increase direct partnerships and engagement of the diaspora.

Hayden-Cater, who was speaking against the background of the bank's recent launch of its JN diaspora certificate of deposit, maintained that many persons are prepared to invest but are often unable to identify the specific products, services and information they need.

"We should be willing and prepared to design products and services that are exclusive to Jamaicans overseas and provide the avenues that allow them to further contribute to the development of the country," she said, pointing to data published by InfoDev for the World Bank, which shows that a quarter of Jamaicans in the diaspora have investable wealth or annual earnings of US$100,000 or more.

More than 70 per cent are interested in investing in start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, and 63 per cent are also interested in diaspora bonds.

"We have to recognise that Jamaica is not simply an island of some 2.7 million people. We are much bigger and expansive than that," she declared.

The JN diaspora certificate of deposit, available in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canadian currencies, was launched last month, and was among the products and services on display for Jamaicans in Canada who patronised the recently held JN Group expo in Brampton, Ontario.

It allows for a portion of the interest earned by the certificate of deposit to be used to fund social enterprises operating in the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise sector.

The sector is responsible for about a third of the country's employment.

Hayden-Cater said that two per cent of the interest earned by individual investors will be matched by JN Bank and contributed to social enterprises engaged in the JN Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative.

The instrument is tenured from one to five years and starts at £1,000, CDN$1,000, or US$2,000.

Interest at the top end of the longest terms on these investments range from 1.5 per cent in pounds sterling; 1.1 per cent in Canadian dollars, to 1.8 per cent in US dollars.

"There are many opportunities to strengthen ties with our nationals overseas, but we need to create the context to engage them so that they can receive current information, ask penetrating questions, and attain the right perception about Jamaica, its economic status, and the opportunities that are available," Hayden-Cater said.

"We need to recognise that Jamaicans in the diaspora are an important constituent in our economic fabric, and, therefore, we should make it easier for interested persons to access information about investment opportunities in Jamaica," Hayden-Cater concluded.