Give Jamaicans overseas more access to investment
Maureen Hayden-Cater, managing director, JN Bank, said the country must move to establish more concrete avenues for Jamaicans in the diaspora to contribute to the development of the country, if it truly intends to garner overseas support for economic success.
Acknowledging the work of the Government, under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica Trade and Invest (JAMPRO), the Diaspora Advisory Board and corporate groups, she said that there were many opportunities for the financial sector to increase direct partnerships and engagement of the diaspora.
DIASPORA WANTS TO INVEST
Speaking against the background of JN Bank's recent launch of its JN Diaspora Certificate of Deposit, Hayden-Cater said that many persons in the diaspora were prepared to invest; however, they are often unable to identify the specific products, services, and information they need.
"We should be willing and prepared to design products and services that are exclusive to Jamaicans overseas and provide the avenues that allow them to further contribute to the development of the country," the JN Bank managing director underscored. She pointed to 2013 data published by InfoDev for the World Bank, which shows that a quarter of Jamaicans in the diaspora have investable wealth or annual earnings of US$100,000 or more. More than 70 per cent are interested in investing in start-ups and small and medium-size enterprises, and 63 per cent are also interested in diaspora bonds.
"We have to recognise that Jamaica is not simply an island of some 2.7 million people, we are much bigger and more expansive than that!" she declared.
The JN Diaspora Certificate of Deposit, available in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Canadian currencies, was launched last month and was among the products and services on display for 5,000 Jamaicans in Canada who patronised the recently held JN Group Expo in Brampton, Ontario.
The product uniquely allows for a portion of the interest earned by the certificate of deposit to be used to fund social enterprises operating in the micro-, small-, and medium-enterprise sector. The sector is responsible for about a third of the country's employment.
"What makes this an even more distinctive product is the fact that the businesses to benefit are those that are operating as social enterprises - which are businesses established for a social good - and generate employment and economic sustainability for certain communities and groups of people," she explained.
She further noted that two per cent of the interest income earned by individual investors will be matched by JN Bank and contributed to social enterprises engaged in the JN Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative.
The instrument is tenured from one to five years and starts at £1,000, CA$1,000, or US$2,000. Interest at the top end of the longest terms on these investments ranges from 1.5 per cent in pounds, 1.1 per cent in Canadian dollars, to 1.8 per cent in US dollars.
... Great demand for information from the diaspora
The managing director of JN Bank, Maureen Hayden-Cater, said that beyond specific products and services targeted at the diaspora, clearer and more defined efforts must be made to engage them in their respective communities - and not only when they visit Jamaica.
Referencing the recent JN Group Expo in Brampton, Ontario, she underscored the "great demand" for information among Jamaicans overseas.
"There are many opportunities to strengthen ties with our nationals overseas, but we need to create the context to engage them so that they can receive current information, ask penetrating questions, and attain the right perception about Jamaica, its economic status, and the opportunities that are available," she maintained.
"We need to recognise that Jamaicans in the diaspora are an important constituent in our economic fabric, and, therefore, we should make it easier for interested persons to access information about investment opportunities in Jamaica," Hayden-Cater concluded.