… disbursed $274M in small and micro loans
A total of 685 loans amounting to just over $274M does not sound like an enormous sum in comparison when compared to the sums quoted in newspaper headlines every day.
But for all of the 1,886 people and their families to whom these 685 micro and small loans were awarded, that money is very real.
These are farmers and fishermen, vendors and tradesmen who all have two things in common, they want a better life and they are willing to work for it.
Enter the Small Business Development Finance (SBDF) Trust. At their eighth Annual General Meeting yesterday morning, Mr. Sattaur Gafoor, Chairman of the SBDF Trust in his report yesterday shared the high points of the Trust’s achievements in 2010.
He noted that in spite of the Global Financial Crisis it was an established fact that the Guyanese financial sector was able to absorb the impact of the shock. Micro and small businesses, according to the Chairman did not fare so well as a result of their small size and limited capital base.
Nevertheless, the SBDF lending capacity increased by 22 percent and the Trust awarded 685 loans to a cumulative tune of $274.186M. The Trust provides loans under four categories: developmental, consumer, housing and micro.
Developmental loans go to sectors with high growth potential such as agriculture, fishing and manufacturing. In 2010, the agency invested almost $217M in loans to persons involved in these areas.
Some $13.8M was disbursed under the heading Consumer loans which according to the Chairman’s Report were mostly issued for home improvement purposes.
Meanwhile housing loans were classified as micro housing loans and issued to those families who have available house lots but could not qualify for loans from banks, they were provided based on the ability of these persons to repay.
According to Mr. Gafoor, under this category, 46 families were able to construct their own houses. Micro loans are not large amounts but they are very useful for those persons who receive them. Most of the recipients are in the low income bracket and the loans are used to assist them in simple economic activities which give them the wherewithal to generate income to finance their daily necessities and perhaps even plan for the future.
The Chairman said in his report, “The provision of micro loans has enabled many disadvantaged young persons who would have otherwise been engaged in undesirable activities to improve their lives and aspire for a better future. 405 micro loans with a total value of $28.3M were disbursed in 2010 …”
The total revenue for the year was $48.782M as against $38.9M in 2009 amounting to a 25 percent increase over that year.
The split between sectors for loans saw 41 percent of disbursements going towards crops, fisheries and livestock, 48 percent to Consumer, Manufacturing and Processing Businesses. The remaining 11 percent was split between housing and retail trade and services loans.
In the years since the agency began operating in 2003, the cumulative totals for loans granted comes to 5,308 loans worth $1.057B. Those loans either created or sustained some 10,700 jobs with the average loan size increasing from $75,000 in 2003 to $400,000 in 2010.
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh pointed out that the performance of the local economy was not only a function of government policy but was an aggregate of the productive effort of every business, citizen and household in the country. He told the audience largely made up of clients of the SBDF Trust that “the strength of the Guyanese economy is as a result of your collective efforts.”
He noted that in recognition of the importance of a stable financial system, the Government has taken great pains to put in place the necessary policies and legislation to ensure that one exists. He cited the tabling and passing of legislation such as the Financial Institutions Act, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Money Transfer Agencies Act and the Credit Bureau Act.
This last piece of legislation was particularly relevant for the persons who are clients of the SBDF Trust and others like them. According to the Minister the intention is to promote the establishment of a credit reporting industry.
He noted that the credit reporting bureaux will not only help to establish credit worthiness for those persons without traditional credit avenues such as a regular income, a relationship with commercial agencies and a significant asset base; lack of which leaves a certain class of working Guyanese out of the commercial financial system.
He stressed that these credit reporting bureaux will go beyond the use of traditional agencies and look to the agencies that see greater access by a wider spectrum of earning classes.
Dr. Singh pointed out that the reporting bureaus would therefore also collect information from entities such as hire purchase retailers and utility providers which would allow for the creation of a credit profile for persons such as the clients of the SBDF Trust in turn allowing them to have wider access to credit based on their performance at this level.
Dr. Singh also lauded the investment of Gafsons Industries Ltd. Employees’ Retention Fund in the agency saying that more Private Sector entities should consider entering investment relationships of this kind.
He also advised the clients of the Trust that success is not built overnight, but that they were the medium and large scale businesses of the future a position that they would only attain through diligence, perseverance and a willingness to take risks.
The SBDF Trust also took the opportunity to recognise a number of clients within excellent performance under certain categories.
Krishnan Jagdeo copped the prize of Best Young Entrepreneur, Mohamed S. Khan had the Best Managed Agricultural Project, Mohamed Ramjohn had the Best Managed Project while Cheryl Brandt got the prize for Best Innovative Female Entrepreneur. Best Innovative Male Entrepreneur went to Courtney Stanton. Suknanan Rajaram was recognized as the Most Progressive Entrepreneur, Certial Mcallister was the entrepreneur with the Best Growth Potential and Sumintra Singh was the Best Female Entrepreneur. The Trust also presented their staff award to one Nirmala Das, their Legal Officer, for her dedication to performing her duties as an employee.
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