Business

Financial institutions take aim with green energy loans

By Nekiesha Reid Business reporter

Sunday, October 14, 2012    

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With competitors like Scotiabank and Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS), newcomer Nation Growth Microfinance Limited found a way to attract more clients to its Green Energy Loan.

While its rivals offered an interest rate of over nine per cent on similar loan packages, Nation Growth's rate is the lowest in the island at eight per cent.

"We're not going to leave out any sector of the society," said senior sales manager Vernon Dunkley.

"In pricing our product, we assume eight per cent is the rate that the average person will find feasible."

But although eight per cent can be considered unprofitable, Dunkley said the company would not raise its rates since this will leave some potential customers behind.

"We don't think the way our competitors think," he said at a Development Bank of Jamaica energy conference at Emancipation Park on Friday.

"If we give customers an opportunity to save, then they end up with more funds to spend on other things, like one of our other products."

Building customer relationships is a crucial strategy, he said, noting that small increments of profit spread out over many clients will leave Nation Growth with a bottom line similar to other firms.

Green energy loans are the latest offering by financial institutions that provide small and medium enterprises as well as residential customers the opportunity to retrofit their properties with energy conservation devices.

The ongoing discussion about alternative energy sources has provided the perfect opening to introduce people to what those alternatives are, Dunkley said.

All three institutions have partnered with companies providing renewable energy solutions to make it easier for customers to choose alternatives.

Both Nation Growth's and Scotiabank's partnerships with Iree Solar and New Leaf, respectively, allow for customers to sell any excess energy they might generate to the Jamaica Public Service using the standard operating contracts provided through the Offices of Utility Regulation.

VMBS's partnership with ConserveIt provides discounts on heating systems and other energy sources, said the energy company's chief marketer, Milton Jackson.

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