(Extracted from the Business Observer – October 15, 2014)
THE Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) wants more accounting firms and organisations to assist it in preparing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the tools to access loans.
The DBJ finds that when SMEs apply for loans many initially fail due to lack of documentation.
"The ultimate goal of the business development services is to provide professional services to SMEs that would allow them to better manage their business to grow, invest, increase revenues, become more efficient and sustainable," stated the DBJ in response to Jamaica Observer queries on Monday.
The DBJ so far approved nine organisations, including the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), within its pool of approved business development organisations (BDOs) but wants more.
The development bank is now accepting proposals from additional accounting firms and BDOs.
It wants them to assist SMEs with the preparation of business plans, financial statements, bank finance proposals and business processes.
"We are seeking applications from BDOs who wish to be approved to offer services to SMEs seeking a DBJ Loan through our approved financial institutions," stated the DBJ.
The move falls under the SME voucher for technical assistance (VTA) which began in May as a one-year, $15-million pilot project with plans for its expansion.
Under the programme, SMEs which operate in selected sectors will receive vouchers in various denominations to access a variety of services provided by BDOs. The DBJ expects the VTA to result in increased access to funding, jobs and SME growth.
"These SMEs will have applied to the DBJ's approved financial institutions and were found to have gaps in the documentation which support their applications/proposals," said the DBJ in response to Business Observer queries. "The loan officer would recommend this entrepreneur for a voucher to correct this gap, for example: Business Plan, Marketing Plan or Financial Statements.
"The entrepreneur will redeem the voucher at one of our approved BDOs, then return to the AFI loan officer to finalise arrangements for the loan."
Jamaica improved one spot to rank 42 among 55 countries in the annual Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment 2013 conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
The country suffered from lack of regulation and a focus on pay-day loans rather than small business financing, according to the report.
Countries were ranked based on scores from zero to 100.
Peru for the sixth year topped the 55 countries, scoring 82 per cent, while Jamaica scored 31 per cent. Dominica Republic, ranked 10th, was the highest placed Caribbean country, ahead of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago (50) and Haiti (54).