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Jamaicans urged to look for opportunities in 2010

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Arthur Hall, Senior Gleaner Writer

Semaj and Morgan

With the country facing undoubtedly tough times this year, Dr Leahcim Semaj is urging Jamaicans to look for the opportunities which might emerge.

Semaj warned that the worst thing any Jamaican can do at this time it to wallow in despair because of the trying times.

"You must be careful that you don't talk yourself into a hole. The problems we face are not insurmountable and Jamaicans need to look for the opportunities that will emerge," Semaj told The Sunday Gleaner.

"2010 I will be back on top again," is the mantra that Semaj has adopted for this year and it is one which he argued could serve Jamaica well.

"In chaos, there are opportunities and this crisis means that new opportunities will emerge, but you have to look at the situation through different eyes. You cannot continue to play by the same old rules," added Semaj.

He was supported by Dr Henley Morgan who argued that the resilience of the Jamaican people will be needed to move the country out of its present predicament.

"There will be many opportunities this year, but persons must understand that it might not be in the area where they are looking," Morgan said.

"Tough times never last but tough people will and Jamaicans have always been tough," added Morgan.

He noted that several organisations have established schemes to provide assistance, but many persons are not aware of these.

Morgan pointed to a little-known loan scheme operating in Trench Town, South St Andrew as one window that persons should look at.

"The Agency For Inner-City Renewal (AIR) has $30 million that it lends at low interest rates up to a maximum of $150,000 with technical support for persons in small businesses," Morgan noted.

"The delinquency rate is less than one per cent for the scheme dubbed 'Livity' and AIR is partnered by COK (City of Kingston Credit Union) and JSIF (Jamaica Social Investment Fund), so there is a lot of money to lend," added Morgan.

Other financial institutions, including the National Commercial Bank and Scotiabank, are also offering low interest loans for small- and medium-size businesses while the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is offering numerous assistance plans for persons who want to go into farming.

"I am concerned about the quality of governance and the seeming lack of political will to solve some of the economic and social problems facing the country, but I still think there is reason for hope," said Morgan.

Persons interested in small-business loans from the Agency For Inner-City Renewal can contact 967-1119.