Business

Scotiabank opens $500-m loan facility for SMEs

KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 22, 2014    

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SCOTIABANK will open a $500-million loan facility for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in September.

The initiative, launched under Scotiabank's 125th anniversary celebration, will see SMEs benefiting from specially discounted loan rates for the expansion or purchase of new equipment for their businesses.

The bank is still figuring out how low to set rates, although Scotia already knows that it will be less than the 12 to 14 per cent typically offered on loans.

Jacqueline Sharp reckons that the initiative is critical to grow the economy and will attract many small business owners.

"The SME sector has been identified as an engine of growth, particularly at this very challenging time as we go through economic reform programmes and various initiatives that we have to do to get the country back on track," the President and CEO of Scotiabank Jamaica told the Caribbean Business Report.

Greater access to financing should address some of the high demand for loans among SMEs. But small businesses still face other challenges in achieving profitability.

"We have found that the entrepreneurs need help in building their capacity for planning, proper record keeping and for structuring their businesses for sustainability," said Sharp.

Scotiabank will also be partnering with a number of outreach centres and non-government organisations (NGOs) across the island to implement training programmes for at-risk youths later this year.

"The programmes are already in place, so we are trying to enhance the ability that these young adults have by providing the Centres with more funding," Sharp stated.

The bank has already pumped $3.25 million in projects aimed at assisting young adults with the necessary skill sets to effectively support their families.

Meanwhile, Scotia has also developed a series of initiatives dubbed "Random Acts of Kindness" to be rolled out across the island starting this Sunday, August 25.

To celebrate its anniversary, Scotiabank has identified 125 'true Scotiabankers' who will receive specially designed 125th anniversary certificates, thanking them for their longstanding relationship and continuous commitment to the Bank.

"It's really just a series of activities where the executive team and staff members volunteer to go out and do random acts of kindness across Jamaica," said Sharp. "These acts will be a surprise to the customers."

Scotiabank provides financial services for 50 per cent of Jamaicans and has in excess of $404 billion in assets. The company currently employs over 2,000 employees, with a network of 38 branches across the island.

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