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Jamaica should do more to support female entrepreneurs -Yong

Published:Monday | December 9, 2013 | 12:00 AM
In this file photo, female entrepreneurs participate in a training workshop aimed at assisting players in the micro-, small- and medium-size sector.

Thelma Yong, credit and risk assessment manager at JN Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL), says Jamaica can do more to support female entrepreneurs in order to improve the country's economic prospects.

Yong, who has been involved in the business of financing micro entrepreneurs for more than two decades, says, "There is a need for more education and training to help women grow their businesses."

Women are at the core of the micro-business sector, and Yong argued that in order to encourage their continued development, the country must provide them with the right services, such as education and training, "so that more women can become small, medium and corporate business owners who will be able to contribute far more to our national competitiveness and employment".

Pointing to the high unemployment rate of over 15 per cent, which is one of the highest levels of unemployment the country has experienced in 15 years, Yong said it was critical for women to get more support, given the country's dependency on the small and micro-business sector to drive the economy.


"Although national agencies such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Jamaica, and private organisations, such as JNSBL, continue to facilitate access to financing and training, there is much more that we can do, as a country, to facilitate more opportunities for our women entrepreneurs to grow," she opined.

She maintained that there was a need to broaden the type of collateral needed to secure financing in order to improve access to credit for both women and men.

"What we need are laws that broaden the range of collateral so that micro- and small-business owners can secure loans without having to draw on traditional capital - such as funds in a bank account, land and motor vehicle," she said.

"There are women with great ideas, some with interest in cultural industries, who cannot access funds because they don't have traditional capital for security," Yong added, pointing out that her company accepts equipment used in the business, and appliances as security for micro loans.

The microfinance professional said that empowering women entrepreneurs is good for the economy because, women often share their prosperity with their communities and families.

"Women often share their achievements with their communities by providing employment and through philanthropy. But they also share their successes especially with their families, particularly their children," Yong affirmed.

She stated that throughout her career in microfinance, she experienced instances in which the children of especially poor rural women have developed because their parents, especially their mothers, were able to access microfinance.

"Women are also good for the microfinance industry because they usually share their experience and encourage both men and women to borrow in order achieve successes similar to their own," Yong stated.