Hundreds of Guyanese have been able to establish small businesses over the years, but such enterprises could not have been possible without the introduction of loan agencies designed to help persons, who in normal circumstances, could ill-afford to do so.
At least this is according to Managing Director of the Small Business Development Finance Trust Incorporated (SBDF), Manjula Brijmohan.
Brijmohan said that the development of the micro sector in Guyana was first conceptualised around 1983. She said that those were the days when a small business and the private sector were not very welcomed enterprises in the local society.
However, as time moved on, she recalled that grass root development became more clear and more pronounced, thus were even encouraged.
“After a period of 10 years of working in the field, I and many others have realised that Guyanese economy needed a boost in order to create better employment opportunities and production from rural as well as suburban areas.”
It was against this background, Brijmohan said, that a lot of work went into the development of the first micro financing institution in the economy. Her involvement contributed towards the development of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development during the period 1998 to 2002.
According to her, it was in 2002 that there was complete realisation that the micro sector was an important sector which required the development of facilities to satisfy a growing and wider spread demand for better opportunities and better conditions.
The Small Business Development Finance (SBDF) emerged as a purely private sector initiative with the assistance of the president of Guyana and some private sector entities.
“Today, six years after its formation, we are a well established and well focused institution. And I can say with great pride that this institution is here to stay and will expand.”
She pointed to the fact that the most important benefit people can see from the institution is that it is an alternate source of finance for the small but enterprising men and women who are working hard to earn a living.
Additionally, she noted that the initiative is also geared at lending to the reduction of criminal activities.
Through the SBDF, Brijmohan said that persons are able to access four types of loans.
She listed micro retail loans as one type which is referred to as vending loans that satisfy the financial needs of very small enterprises.
The majority of persons accessing these loans, she said, include small scale vendors. However, there are also those who are desirous of delving into tailoring, shoemaking, cake decoration, and craft making.
“Before they can enter into any type of criminal activities or any undesirable social activities, it is better for them to have small loans so that they can generate a daily income for buying income.”
The main objective of this loan, Brijmohan said is to allow for short term income generation as it can be considered as need oriented catering to daily needs.
And then there is the demand driven loans or the housing loans. Brijmohan explained that these are not mortgage loans but rather are small loans mainly to assist clients to have proper living condition.
These include house repairs, converting shacks to small dwelling houses, and also putting toilet and bath inside.
Consumer loans are also available and are largely to help clients buy personal effects, such as appliances and other necessities required in the home without having to pay a high rate of interest.
The largest loans that could be had at SBDF, Brijmohan said, are the developmental type. These loans in terms of money and activities are more than the vending level, including manufacturing and processing.
Persons generally qualify for the various types of loans based on what they can offer as collateral and the more the collateral, the higher the loan will be, Brijmohan said.
The interesting thing about SBDF she related, is that collateral accepted are not necessarily those that would be accepted by banks.
And this is due to the fact that the loan entity is mostly on grass root section of the population who ordinarily would not be afforded a loan at a bank.
SBDF has over the years been able to cater to hundreds of clients, but according to Brijmohan there is still much more to be done.
And as part of its efforts to do even more, she revealed that the entity has applied to the World Bank for a loan which will see a lot more persons been able to garner small loans.
A loan agreement in this regard is expected to be signed on Tuesday, when the SBDF hosts its sixth Annual General Meeting at Hotel Tower.
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