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Matilda Johnson-Ennevor, owner of the automotive enterprise, The Battery Shop in May Pen, Clarendon, is pleased with her certificate presented to her by Philip Bernard (left), General Manager, JN Small Business Loans Limited (JNBSL). Sharing the moment is Parris Lyew-Ayee, Chairman, JNSBL.

JN Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL) is set to launch its new low interest loan programme for clients who maintain a good credit history and strong relationship with the island’s leading microfinance institution soon.

Addressing clients and guests at the Annual JNSBL Board of Directors’ Tour in May Pen Clarendon, recently (Dec 12), Philip Bernard, General Manager, JNSBL had said the company plans to offer rates as low as 10 percent per annum to clients who qualify early in 2014.

“The funds for this new low interest loan programme will be provided through a pool funds created between JNSBL and its partners the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), National Insurance Fund (NIS), and the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA), which disburse wholesale funds to the microfinance sector, Mr. Bernard stated.

Pointing out that more than 70 percent of its clients secure some 15 or more loans from the company, Mr. Bernard stressed that microfinance institutions have a responsibility beyond simply providing loans to entrepreneurs, and to use their relationships with the sector to effectively provide solutions that drive their development.

He maintained that instead, many institutions, which have emerged in the past decade, had become more focused on profits and the bottom line in their approach to financing small businesses.

“Access to microfinance is not simply knowing that funds are available and knowing how quickly one can receive it; or, where and at what interest rate these funds can be had,” Mr. Bernard emphasised.

And, he stressed that, “Entrepreneurs need institutions with personnel whom they can comfortably discuss their problems, explain their situations, and get advice and support about how to improve their business.”

The General Manager stated that institutions should be using the relationships they have developed with their clients to make the loan process easier, using their history as part of the analysis of their risk and ultimately to determine the interest on their loan.

“This is the true mandate of a responsible and caring institution,” Mr. Bernard affirmed.  “And, we are conscious of this at JNSBL, recognising that, to improve the national economy, we must also build relationships that facilitate the sustainable development of our clients.”

Within that context, he announced that in addition to the new interest rate JNSBL will be establishing a facility, aptly named the JNSBL Relationship Centre, to better manage relationships with its clients. This facility will include specially trained field officers to assist clients with a range of problems, which may include personal financial issues. The facility will be available in all locations across the 14 parishes. The company also plans to establish a special toll free number, which entrepreneurs can call.

He noted that generally JNSBL has been retraining its employees in a new approach to do doing business with entrepreneurs; and, noted that by the end of this year the company will launch a new website, which will allow clients to begin the application process online, reducing the loan processing procedure.

“Applicants will only need to click the apply button on the home page of the website, and select the product which they would like to apply for.  The application will be sent to the loans centre for immediate processing by a field officer, who will then make contact with the client; and get the ball rolling quickly,” he said noting that the website will be a first of its kind to be used by any microfinance institution in Jamaica.

Mr. Bernard also said that JNSBL will be equipping its Field Officers with mobile point-of-sale machines and establish partnerships with select bill payment agents in an effort to improve its collection points for repayment.

“In the end, the issue of access to credit is not just simply about being able to borrow funds to finance operations, it includes access to services that provide for the development of the entrepreneur’s business,” he said.  And, he concluded that, “Building better relationships is how we will eventually build a better society.”

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