With the back-to-school season at full strength as thousands of students islandwide prepare to return to face-to-face learning this month, and the Yuletide season draws near, National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCB) is planning to give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a leg up with its Merchant Advance financing solution.
NCB's Merchant Advance solution gives business owners the option to qualify for up to $25 million in unsecured financing, or up to $55m in funding using the Development Bank of Jamaica's Credit Enhancement Facility.
According to Sheree Martin, NCB's head of retail banking, the financing facility enables SMEs using NCB's payment card solutions to leverage their future credit and debit card receivables to access affordable, unsecured financing to be used primarily as working capital.
She shared that the past two years have been a challenging time for many local businesses, especially those that usually look forward to the traditional shopping seasons for their revenue. With this in mind, she said NCB is fully invested in providing SMEs with assistance and has created facilities to do so.
"As we return to mostly pre-pandemic living and more face-to-face interactions for our nation's students, we want to help local businesses be prepared to take advantage of potential earnings from back-to-school and Christmas shopping, which is right around the corner."
Sonia Thomas, proprietor of Sonia's Homestyle Restaurant, is one of the business owners has so far utilised the solution. With it she has financed the renovation of her cold room, which enabled her to increase the storage capacity and streamline her organisation to be better prepared for the upcoming shopping season.
"The Merchant Advance loan is an excellent facility which assisted me with upgrading my old cold room to a much bigger and better one. After losing two years due to the pandemic, I am grateful for the support in bouncing back and preparing for the upcoming busy period," she said.
Thomas also explained that "the processing of the facility was quick and hassle-free, and with its low interest rate, the facility is a great option for other business owners who are looking to restock or retrofit their business operations".
Local businesses looking to stock up or prepare for the shopping season also get access to added benefits such as a three-month moratorium on principal payments, with up to four years to repay.
"As local small and medium-sized business owners prepare for one of the busiest shopping periods, we have made access to financing easier for them, allowing them to get up to $55m in financing to prepare their inventory and improve their services to meet the increased customer demand. On the flip side, we encourage all Jamaicans to shop local for all their Christmas and back-to-school needs, as this is one of the ways in which we can stimulate the economy," Martin stated.