Thu | Nov 14, 2019

Torpedo microlender acquired by foreign firm

Published:Wednesday | February 6, 2019 | 6:49 AM

Silva Investment Limited, a foreign firm engaged in multiple businesses, has acquired Torpedo Micro Loan Financing in what it said is a strategic move to get a foothold in Jamaica’s growing financial market.

In addition to the fixed assets, Silva has bought Torpedo’s loan portfolio, trade name, and, most important, according to the company, maintenance of the business model for which it is famously known, ‘no guarantee, no collateral’ – a model it said many microfinancing companies have attempted and failed.

Torpedo was the pioneering microfinancing company to remove the requirements for collateral and guarantors to offer easily accessible personal and small-business loans to Jamaicans, Silva said in a statement.

Silva declined to comment on the sum paid for the acquisition, which concluded on January 15, as well as details about two Jamaican entities with which it said it is currently in negotiation to complement the operation of Torpedo.

Torpedo Loan Micro Financing was founded by its executive director, Rohan Silvera, 12 years ago after finding himself repeatedly lending and giving advances to truck drivers.

His military background gave rise to the name of the firm. The torpedo is a cigar-shaped self-propelled underwater missile designed to be fired from a ship or submarine or dropped into the water from an aircraft and to explode on reaching a target. Silvera reportedly admired it for its speed and efficiency – characteristics he is said to have adopted into the operations of his microfinance company.

The loan agency opened its first branch in Spanish Town in 2008 and has since developed into a 32-branch network with 200 employees.

“The business model, backed by the experienced and knowledgeable middle management and an efficient collections department, has helped to mitigate risks associated with such a business,” the company said in a statement.

Silva said the company’s profitability, low delinquencies and 30,000 customer base were what “made this acquisition attractive”.

Silva Investment has a presence in the English-speaking Caribbean, West Africa, and North America and is looking to establish itself as an industry leader in the Americas.

The company, which is registered in St Lucia, has a diversified portfolio made up of assets across multiple sectors, including a real estate investment trust or with properties locally and internationally; a real estate development company; a debt collection agent already managing debt collection for some companies within Jamaica; a debt consolidation company operating in Jamaica, and a business development company operating in Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, Gambia and Antigua and Barbuda.

“The acquisition of Torpedo Micro Loan Financing is a strategic move to get a foothold into Jamaica’s growing financial market,” said regional lead of Silva Investment, Courson Robinson.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com