The Development Bank of Jamaica has introduced a programme called the Voucher for Technical Assistance (VTA) to assist micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in strengthening their managerial and administrative abilities to improve their creditworthiness.
In explaining the need for the VTA, Mr. Milverton Reynolds, the DBJ's Managing Director, said that it has been the perennial experience of the Bank and its Approved Financial Institutions (AFIs), the network of partners through which the DBJ provides loans for development purposes, that MSMEs have significant structural problems which have made it difficult for them to access financing.
"The DBJ is once again stepping in to assist these MSMEs to organise themselves in ways that will enable them to access credit to expand and upgrade their businesses," he said. "This assistance is one of the pillars of the DBJ’s strategic plans to facilitate the social inclusion of entrepreneurs and MSMEs to participate in the national economy.
"The importance of this outreach cannot be overstated. Output will be increased, more persons will be employed and the tax net will be widened while individuals and families will see their standard of living improve."
What are Vouchers?
Under the Voucher for Technical Assistance (VTA), micro, small and medium-sized businesses which operate in the productive sectors may receive vouchers in various denominations to be used to access business support services provided by accredited Business Development Organisations (BDOs).
Entrepreneurs who operate businesses in all the traditional industries as well as those operating in emerging industries qualify for assistance under the programme. Traditional industries are agriculture, agro-processing, tourism, energy, manufacturing, mining, and services while emerging industries include animation and information technology.
MSMEs may also access other DBJ services and loan products, including the Credit Enhancement Facility (CEF), which are designed to help build capacity and set them on the path of sustainability.
When an entrepreneur applies for a loan at an Approved Financial Institution (AFI) his/her application may be denied because of gaps in their management capacity.
The AFI loan officer may recommend assistance by way of a Voucher which may improve the client’s chances of accessing a loan.
An entrepreneur who does not wish to access a loan but wishes to improve his/her business operations, or prepare for other types of investment, may apply for a voucher online on the DBJ’s website. The application will be assessed by the Project Manager who will approve or deny each application using the criteria set out in the programme documents.
It is important for the entrepreneur to be aware that the DBJ’s technical assistance should not only improve its ability to access funding but should also assist in maintaining a sustainable business operation. Therefore, the DBJ and its partners will monitor the activities of the beneficiaries after the completion of the assistance package.