The island’s micro entrepreneurs will, by July, have access to funding through a global portal being established by the nation’s leading microfinance company, JN Small Business Loans Limited (JNSBL).
JNSBL has unveiled the English-speaking Caribbean’s first “crowd-funding” website, isupportjamaica.com, to hundreds of Jamaicans living overseas, who attended the 2013 Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held June 16 – 19 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.
The project is being implemented and managed through a strategic partnership between the company’s philanthropic arm, the JN Foundation, and JNSBL, says new JNSBL General Manager, Philip Bernard and will assist Jamaicans wanting to start a micro business to raise funds to do so.
Underscoring that JSNBL is a social enterprise which upholds the mutuality concept framing the Jamaica National brand, Mr. Bernard said the website emphasises the company’s “mandate to promote the development of the micro and small business sector, through access to financial services, and by extension, the Jamaican economy.”
“Our Jamaican landscape is lush with bright ideas that only require the necessary seed funding so that they can be explored and realised,” he said, pointing out that many micro entrepreneurs continue to find it difficult to access start-up funds from traditional institutions because of their perceived high risk.
“Therefore, as a social organisation, JNSBL has developed this approach to broaden access for all our micro entrepreneurs, because this is a critical sector of the economy that will indeed play a major role in shaping the future of Jamaica,” he said.
The site, which will also provide a platform for charities and philanthropists to raise funds for community projects, will allow civic-minded people anywhere in the world to donate funds or to lend money to entrepreneurs.
“This is not a novel approach, but it is taking an idea that has been working for many countries around world, and transforming it into something totally Jamaican, to support our aspirations and development targets and provide a means for our Jamaicans abroad and well-wishers everywhere to partner with Jamaica and make a difference by just assisting one entrepreneur,” Mr. Bernard said.
Explaining how the site will work, Mr. Bernard said descriptive profiles, which will also include videos of micro entrepreneurs and charitable projects, will be uploaded to the site. Persons who sign up to I Support Jamaica, will have the opportunity to use a credit card or using their JN online banking portal Live by JN to lend or make a donation to the project or entrepreneur of their choice.
All funds loaned will be monitored and managed by JNSBL, which has been in the business of lending to the micro and small business sector for more than a decade. Over this period the company has disbursed some 286,000 loans, valued at more than $14 billion over the past 14 years.
“There are many entrepreneurs with great ideas who simply need people and organisations that believe in them and are willing to provide support, hence we have established this facility to assist in honing those ideas into successful businesses,” Mr. Bernard added.