FHC grows small business loan unit portfolio by 700%
First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union (FHC) last week announced that its micro and small business loan portfolio has grown eightfold in eight years.
The credit union in a press release said the loan portfolio of the Micro and Small Business Loan Unit has jumped from $25 million to approximately $200 million since it was introduced in 2006.
Norman Thompson, assistant general manager of retail network at FHC, reasoned that a customer-centric approach and team work has allowed the firm to successfully assist over 3,000 members with loans of over $350 million over the period.
"This means we are on our way to realising our overall objective to be the leader in the Micro and Small Loan business sector and to expand our reach throughout the 14 parishes by the end of 2014," said Thompson.
The Micro and Small Business Loan Unit was introduced by the former Churches Co-operative Credit Union -- now First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union -- to provide start-up capital for entrepreneurs.
FHC's Micro and Small Business Loan Unit is affiliated with the Caribbean Micro Finance Alliance which acts as a catalyst for the development of micro finance in the Caribbean. The unit was a finalist in the Caribbean Micro Finance Competition 2012, for its positive impact in Jamaica.
"We have a dynamic unit which acts as a vehicle to drive industry and commerce, especially in certain communities by offering opportunities for the empowerment of unemployed persons through entrepreneurship," said Sophia Richardson, the manager of the unit.
"This is complemented by our offering of training, monitoring and guidance and as such the unit is dedicated to ensuring the success of the entrepreneurs with whom we partner," Richardson added.
She noted too that the unit sponsors entrepreneurship programmes to assist young people with the start-up of their businesses and offers workshops to persons who are seeking to set up their own enterprises.
Loan officers are also required to participate in continuous training conducted by micro finance experts to ensure that they remain current, Richardson said.
FHC's Micro and Small Business Loan Unit presently has branches in Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St James, Manchester and St Catherine, but plans to service the other parishes through the deployment of its mobile micro and small business loan officers.
"They will make calls on potential business operators to offer the various products and services that are best suited for the individual organisations," Richardson said.
According to FHC, the unit has assisted many members to start and expand businesses in various sectors.
Among those who have benefited from the Micro and Small Business Unit is Javin Williams, who is a recipient of the 2013 Entrepreneurial Award. He is the owner of Herboo Enterprise which manufactures shampoo, conditioners and organic cosmetics.
"FHC has allowed my business to grow through their guidance and promotion of my products," he said in the press release.