National Commercial Bank project brings success
Some of Jamaica's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are in good stead after benefiting from a project geared to increase their growth capacity.
The project, partly funded by National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB/MIF), was geared to strengthen the bank's capacity to significantly increase lending and financial services to small entrepreneurs. The project, in the amount of US$1,029,009, supported by a NCB contribution of US$567,009 and a MIF grant of US$462,000 sought to increase financing to small enterprise segments that drive economic growth. NCB also created a pool of funds of approximately JA$500,000 towards loan financing at an attractive interest rate.
Speaking at the project's closing event last Wednesday February 25, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, chairman of NCB, Michael Lee-Chin, said though Jamaica had passed various International Monetary Fund tests, it was growth that would give long-term sustainability.
"Growth is going to come from the small enterprises," he said. "But there has to be an enabling of the small enterprises. We have certain treasures right in our midst (like) coffee, cocoa and ginger. Yet still we cry out we need growth. That's why NCB has said we have to change this. This is all about building a better Jamaica." Managing director of BizTactics Limited, Sandra Glasgow, underlined SMEs were the backbone of Jamaica so it was important to build a key element in their success.
"One of the important elements of the project was the development of a credit scoring model which will enable the bank to quantify the opportunities and risks of its SME portfolio, and its prospective clients," said Glasgow. "The model will also allow the bank to develop an early-warning system to monitor the SME portfolio." She noted a credit assessment system would be integrated into NCB's existing system to facilitate the process of underwriting credit to the SME segment. The event was also used to launch the documentary of the project, as well as seven of the case studies.
"These products ... should not stay on the shelf, which is very often what happens to these projects," she said, speaking specifically to the IDB representatives. Glasgow lamented that only 20 SMEs were able to receive technical assistance but acknowledged it was a first step. Dr Anissa Holmes of Jamaica Cosmetic Dental Services, noted they had already started to utilise some of what they had learned, including the importance of having a vision.
"I can tell you that five years from now, our office is currently in Kingston, I plan to open another office in two years focusing primary on children and paediatric dental services, for which there is definitely a need in Jamaica," she said. "And in five years, I will be in Montego Bay, and who knows where I will be from there? So that is my vision, the mission is how we get there."
Dr Holmes said she has learned how to reduce expenses, budget for profit, and how to give better service.