Thu | Jan 19, 2017

St Thomas students offer overseas work programme loans

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMShanna Monteith
Members of J1 Financiers team made up of mostly St Thomas youth.

MORANT BAY, St Thomas:

What began as a kind-hearted favour towards a few friends is now a successful organisation owned and operated by three young St Thomas men.

With O'Brian Morris, a past student of Seaforth High School as founder, and Jevaughn Rose and Rolando Green, both Morant Bay High School alumni, as co-founders, the loan agency J1 Financier Inter-national Limited has been expanding far beyond expectations, offering financial assistance to students who are a part of the work and travel programme.

Rose, a major player in the initiative, told Rural Xpress how it all began.

"O'Brian started the business by simply giving loans to close friends who wanted to go on the work and travel programme, without really eyeing anything big. I was one of his first clients. I thought it was a good idea, because I knew how frustrating it is wanting to get that experience and just lack the financial power to do so.

I knew there were many persons out there in my position, so I offered to join him," he said, adding that the business was made official in 2015 after the three pooled their earnings from their own travel experience.

 

Office space

 

Though the team of three didn't have an office space at the time, they made do with whatever environment they could until things fell into place.

According to Rose: "We had to conduct our loan interviews under trees at UTech (University of Technology) and in unused classrooms. At one point, we managed to book the library just trying to make things work, you know? We used our rooms as our office to store files and documents. Everything went smoothly. Clients were successful and all loans repaid on time in full. This is the second year of operation. Now, we have an office located at 1 Stanton Terrace, in the vicinity of Mountain View Avenue, where we conduct our business."

J1 Financier International Limited, Rose revealed, now provides loans for double the number of people it did last year.

He said: "We have really expanded. We cover programme fees, airfare, housing deposits and so on. We also offer tax-

filing services. We must give credit to Otego Thompson, owner of Career Source International, the work and travel agency with which we work closely. He gives guidance and motivation from all angles."

The business has so far sponsored events and made charitable donations, including a $300,000 pledge to Akalia Moore, a St Thomas teen who needed an emergency brain surgery.

The young men, all 23 years old, are currently finishing up their respective degrees at UTech and are expected to graduate this November.

As a way of giving back, the trio is planning on providing an interest-free loan for the enrolment commitment fee, a mandatory fee paid by UTech students.

rural@gleanerjm.com