(Extracted from the Observer dated Jan 29, 2014)
The Government-run Self-Start Fund (SSF) is positioning itself to attract entrepreneurs who want to start small businesses integral to the Jamaica logistics hub.
“Self-Start Fund will make available funds to those MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises clients who are planning to provide goods and services to the Logistics Hub,” said Ammesha Samuels, SSF’s credit analyst and marketing officer.
“SSF is prepared to work with MSME’s which desire to provide the hub with services that will see to its operational functionality,” she added.
She said as a result of this, SSF is now in the “process of rebranding itself to meet the current needs of all its present and future customers.”
She explained that the rebranding initiative will “bring about new loan products at varying and attractive interest rates.”
“Currently, SSF has one of the lowest interest rates in the MFI business – 23% on the reducing balance,” she emphasized.
“SSF will provide working capital to purchase inventory and meet daily expenses and capital expenditure. This includes purchasing of machinery or tools to carry out business,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the fund manager, Sezvin Hamilton, said that the entity intends to “partner with as many small and micro businesses in creating a harmonious business community that will provide all the needed services for the success of the logistics hub”.
“With the ministry making policies which will see micro financing becoming more accessible, SSF is well on its way to playing a bigger role in the establishment of the hub and its functionality. SSF is aiming to be the premier lending agency to the MSME’s seeking to provide the logistics hub with value-added services,” Hamilton said.
The Jamaica logistics hub initiative intends to capitalize on the expected increase in maritime activities arising from the expansion of the Panama Canal that is scheduled for completion next year.
The hub is proposed as a cornerstone to the country’s economic development and is expected to create some 10,000 permanent jobs.
Key features of the hub include development of the Caymanas Economic Zone; dredging of the Kingston Harbour; expanding the port facility at Fort August and Gordon Cay; establishing a Dry Dock facility at Jackson Bay, Clarendon; establishing a trans-shipment commodity port facility near Yallahs, St. Thomas; and developing an air cargo and passenger facility at Vernam Field in Clarendon.
“SSF is prepared to provide loan financing to these MSME’s which will aim to provide these services to the hub,” Hamilton stressed.