Entrepreneur turns microlending vision into reality
JEAN ...I have been an entrepreneur since age 13, selling first in thefront of my grandmother's house to help my mom with my sister

STARTING a financial business can be capital-intensive, especially when you're doing it in the middle of a pandemic. But for Lotoya Jean, a career bank teller and financial consultant, all it took was a little willpower.

“I didn't know where the money was gonna come from but I knew I had a dream and I was determined to see that dream become a reality,” said Jean.

Jean is the owner of a registered business in the United States which was launched about one year ago. The business is a financial and consulting firm focused on helping other Americans with business planning, taxes, immigration and credit consulting. She explained that funding for that business came out of her own pocket. “I funded the business myself by pulling the money I saved in my 401(k); it wasn't much but it gave me a start,” Jean noted. But her knack for entrepreneurship started long ago. She said, “I have been an entrepreneur since age 13, selling first in the front of my grandmother's house to help my mom with my sister.”

It didn't take long before the entrepreneur devised a plan to set up a similar business in her native country, Jamaica.

“I got this big, audacious vision from God to come back to Jamaica and start a microlending company to help the underserved communities and individuals with financial education, loans and immigration help,” she added.

At first the entrepreneur admitted she was apprehensive to follow through on her vision. She said the competitive environment alone was almost enough to deter her. But, after deliberation, she decided to move forward with her plans.

On this occasion, Jean noted that she had some experience as an entrepreneur and had a better understanding of what it requires for a business to thrive.

“I used the money from my business in the States to set up operations here in Jamaica, but I know we will need additional funding as we grow and expand,” she continued.

The name of her new business venture is Jean's Financing Limited, a registered company based in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth. She shared that there are plans to open other locations across the island, noting that her focus is less about making a quick profit and more about guiding Jamaicans in making sound financial decisions.

She said “We fund dreams. I am a big believer, dreamer and doer and believe that the greatest good is in helping others to succeed financially. I know many Jamaicans have been treated unfairly by microlenders with regards to the rates being charged, and I would like to change that.”

With that said, Jean Financing plans to offer micro loans with compounded annual interest rates as low as 33%. She says the company will lend as much as $100,000 for a business loan, with the possibility to increase that amount over time.

“I am happy that the industry will be regulated with the passage of the Microcredit Act of 2021 and I look forward to the structure that will bring,” she stated.

In the meantime, the entrepreneur is also focused on fulfilling her philanthropic obligations. “I give back freely to the community of St Elizabeth with a charity organisation. I founded this charity six years ago, The Giving Hands foundation. We will host our regular care package project — helping over 100 people in the next few days — a fun day for the children at the end of the month, etc,” She added, “I strongly believe that we must also be socially responsible for the communities that we live in and that is why I am here — to help as much as I can,” she continued.

Some of Jean's other business venture include: Maximum Solutions Financial Services, website www.maximumsolutionsfinancialservices.com, as well as her business consulting firm Gogetter Motivation Consulting Group website www.gogettermotivation.net. The entrepreneur is also the host of the podcast Broke is no joke and author and director for a non-profit that teaches financial education to children in the United States. Jean says that's an initiative she intends on incorporating in Jamaica in the future.

BY ANDREW LAIDLEY Senior business reporter laidleya@jamaicaobserver.com

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