Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OVER 208,000 jobs have been created as a result of loans disbursed by the Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL) since it began operations 12 years ago.
Earl Jarrett, general manager of parent company, Jamaica National Building Society, made the disclosure as he spoke during the annual board of directors luncheon and tour at The Ruins restaurant in Ocho Rios on Monday.
Jarrett said small businesses in Jamaica are ready to take off.
"If we can get 200,000 who are ready to go, imagine the impact it would have on the economy," Jarrett said.
The event was held to highlight the economic benefits of microfinance to small-business operations in the company's Region Six, comprising the parishes of St Ann, St Mary and Portland.
Over 2,000 loans totalling some $359 million have been disbursed in the region, with women accounting for two thirds of the loans.
Boost the economy
Guest speaker, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, said the Government was committed to helping the small-business sector to develop and boost the economy. She said, as a result, the Government has made available some $3.7 billion to help the sector.
Other initiatives include the introduction of a super form, available through the Companies Office of Jamaica, which will allow a one-stop shop for business registration. The Companies Office will also be upgrading its website to facilitate online registration.
"We have also been spearheading several pieces of legislation geared towards improving our business environment; including The Secured Transactions Act, probate, patent and insolvency laws; amendments to the Copyright, Trademark and Companies act, and the Export Plus Initiative," Ffolkes-Abrahams said.
She said some 200 small and medium-size enterprises will also be benefiting from improved competitiveness and greater access to international markets through technical assistance under the EPI.
"This is critical as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2011 Jamaica Report shows that the majority of entrepreneurs (64 per cent) had none of their customers living outside the country, and only 2.8 per cent had 50 per cent to 90 per cent of international customers," the state minister said.
General manager for JN Small Business Loans, Frank Whylie, highlighted the company's growth over the years, moving from $37.9 million in loans portfolio in 2000 to $697 million currently.
Several JNSBL beneficiaries involved in manufacturing mounted an exhibition of their goods at the event, which attracted dozens of persons.