Micro lenders turn to technology

By Shamille Scott Business reporter

Wednesday, July 18, 2012    

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Micro-financing institutions are using technology and social intervention to reduce the number of delinquent borrowers on their books.

The new approaches are helping companies to measure risk better and to ensure that their clients don't get into trouble with their payments.

Since opening last June, Sure Financial has recorded a 0 per cent delinquency rate.

"We have no loans over 30 days in arrears," said Royan Campbell, the company's owner.

Constant communication is important, said Campbell. "The key is maintaining a supportive relationship with our clients."

Since customers don't always remember their payment dates, the company reminds them via text, he said.

The company also runs workshops with Heart to help its borrowers develop their businesses.

Jamaica National Small Business Loans has gone further in addressing delinquency.

It uses a GIS (geographic information system) technology to map clients and their nearest payment locations. It can also reveal patterns of delinquency.

On the plus side, it can also show areas that are ripe for expansion.

Jamaica National also has a database, called the Disaster Management Programme, which reveals how vulnerable small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are to landslides, flooding and earthquakes.

This helps the lender to determine the credit risk of each borrower.

When disaster does strike, the company is able to offer loans, grants and repayment rescheduling to those clients affected most.



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