Local entrepreneurs among six recognised

— for excellence in microfinance

BY ARLENE MARTIN-WILKINS Associate editor - news martina@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 05, 2014

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Six entrepreneurs, including two Jamaicans, were Tuesday night recognised for their successes as microentrepreneurs at the third annual Citi Foundation-Caribbean Microfinance Alliance (Citi-CMFA) awards, which formed part of the Fifth Caribbean Microfinance Forum (CMF V) now on at Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Hotel in St James.

The two Jamaicans were noted photographer William Foster, who operates Foster's Photo Studio in Kingston, and Elsa Waysome, who started T&T Herbs in Clarendon which processes and sells dried herbs such as cerasse, sarsaparilla, and Meringa. Foster and Waysome finished second in their respective categories — Best Technology Microentrepreneur and Best Rural Microentrepreneur — at an awards ceremony that saw two Belizeans and a Grenadian winning the three top prizes.

Belizean Eved Jose Corado copped the Best Technology Award — a plaque and US$3,000 cash prize — for a tech company he started in the rural San Jose Village in 2009 with a microloan. The company, Etech Services, offers a range of services covering photocopying, graphic design, video editing and the repair and unlocking of cellular phones.

Meanwhile, the Best Rural Microentrepreneur category was topped by Grenadian Samuel Andrew, another microloan beneficiary, who was honoured for setting up a modern farm in Hartford Village in the Spice Island.

The third category, Best Young Entrepreneur, was won by 16-year-old Belizean Eider Romero, who started his fruit popsicle business in 2009 with a loan from his parents. A micro loan from a credit union later helped Eider to expand ER's Icy Treats to the point where it now turns over US$45,000 in annual sales and employs six people. Another Belizean, 25-year-old Eliel Reynoso, finished second in the category for his business, Hawaiian Ice Parlour, that serves up tangy sweet-and-sour snow cones.

Reacting to his award Tuesday night, Jamaica's Foster said that he was pleased to get recognition for his business. "To be chosen from such a big pool of people is a good feeling," he told the Jamaica Observer.

Earlier, Belizean winners Corado and Romero thanked their families and the respective microfinance institutions that invested in their businesses.

"I'm happy because the challenges of being entrepreneurs are so big," Corado declared.

For his part, Romero said that it was bravery that allowed him to seek funding to expand his business in 2012, the Year of the Mayans, when the world and the lives of its over seven billion people were predicted to come to an abrupt end.

"I didn't die, I was born again," said the young entrepreneur.

Meanwhile, Andrew from Grenada said he was motivated by a declaration from his loan officer from the Grenada Public Service Cooperative Union that her duty "is to see that you succeed".

"This is not the type of language I expected, having tried and failed to get a loan from the commercial bank," he said.

Tuesday night, Michelle Scott, executive director of the CMFA, said that the six winners were chosen from a field of 31 candidates, 25 of whom were men, and
were nominated by nine microfinance institutions. Both Jamaicans were nominated by Access Financial Services.

The Caribbean Microfinance Forum, which began on Monday, is jointly funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (a member of the Inter-American Development Bank), the European Union, the Caribbean Development Bank and Citi Foundation to develop the microfinance industry in the English-speaking Caribbean. The forum, which ends today, is being attended by 155 delegates and presenters from the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Pacific, Asia, Fiji and Africa.

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