Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:THE ECONOMIC benefits of microfinancing to small-business operators in Jamaica National Building Society's Region Six was on showcase here earlier this week.
Jamaica National Small Business Limited (JNSBL) on Monday handed out certificates to several clients during the annual board of directors' luncheon at The Ruins restaurant in Ocho Rios, St Ann.
While the company said thanks to the clients for their support over the years, the clients in turn expressed appreciation for the opportunities that JNSBL afforded them, through the acquisition of loans.
Several of these clients, who are involved in manufacturing, had products on display and showed just how progressive JNSBL loans had allowed them to become.
"I got my first loan four years ago," Dermaine James, a potter from Retreat district in St Mary, told The Gleaner. Since then, he has had two other loans, which he used to purchase material to increase production, enabling his business to not just survive, but to grow.
"If it had not been for JN, I would not have improved, or reached this far," James added.
Manufacturing his goods at home with the help of his wife, Hazel, he has the opportunity to display his products at Couples Sans Souci Hotel two days per week. He also supplies a few stores.
"What I'm hoping for is to improve to where I can be stationed one place, where persons can come in and see the action of my business and at the same time, see the finished product."
But will this ever become a reality for him?
"The business has potential and with the help of JN Small Business, I have the confidence it will," James said.
Another beneficiary, pastry maker Loraine Hamilton of Great Pond, Ocho Rios, has benefited from three loans over the last seven years, which she has used to solidify her business establishment.
"I do catering, I do birthday parties, and I sell pastries," she explained. Her attractive display of pastries had persons lining up to purchase items, with her sweet potato pudding being a hit with the crowd.
Fashion designer, Phylis Edwards displayed a well-made bed, showing off her sheets, pillow cases and curtains, along with several items of clothing, which she manufactured at her small establishment, Lee's Fashion, in Oracabessa, St Mary. She was accompanied by a worker, Marlene Smith, who has been employed for two months now.
"I have been in business over 28 years now, and I have had a lot of loans from JN Small Business, they have helped me a lot," Edwards said.
Two of the field officers at the Ocho Rios branch of JN Small Business, Alicia Taylor and Patrick Carnakie, were quite pleased with the day's proceedings, especially knowing that they have helped several of their clients to grow their business.
"If persons do mean themselves well, they should just come and join us and we will help them, along with their business," Taylor said.
Carnakie explained that loan applicants are required to submit a valid identification, taxpayers registration number and two recommendations.
"We use household appliances as security for the loans and the business has to be operating for at least six months," he said.
There has been a constant increase in loan disbursements with last year, 2011, being the best year to date.
Loans were disbursed for several businesses such as carpentry, hair dressing, taxi operating, chicken farming, agro farming, manufacturing, trading, and several other types of businesses.