CDB Continues to Support Micro-Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean

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The Caribbean Microfinance Capacity-Building Program II which is being co-financed by the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Commission, Citi Foundation and the Multilateral Investment Fund, is bringing real benefits to micro-entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. Jamaican firm, Access Financial Services, has emerged winner of the Excellence in Finance Award, in the inaugural Citi Micro-Entrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean which are a component of this programme. Access will receive a cash prize of US$10,000. The microfinance operation, headed by Marcus James, was recognised as "one of the premier providers of loans", serving 5,599 active business loan clients through a retail network of 14 branches across Jamaica. "Access has prioritised ‘working-class entrepreneurs' as a key market segment and consistently provides convenient and innovative loan products for this segment", said the statement announcing the winners. "Despite a challenging economic environment which saw a 1.1 per cent decline in Jamaica's Gross Domestic Product, in 2011 Access recorded a 35 per cent increase in the number of loans disbursed." The Citi awards also recognise individual entrepreneurs, and in this regard, The Excellence in Micro-entrepreneurship Award went to Belize's Javier Basto of Basto & Sons Plantain Chips. In 2008, the entrepreneur launched into business by frying plantains in his backyard and selling to friends and neighbours in Guinea Grass Village, Belize. With financing for equipment and improved facilities from La Inmaculada Credit Union, his business has expanded to seven employees and includes cassava chips and churros distributed through grocery stores in Orange Walk Town, Corozal Town and Belize City. The Citi Micro-Entrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean is a collaboration of Citi Foundation, the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance (CFMA), and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). This year, the winners will be presented with their prizes at the Caribbean Microfinance Forum IV in Bridgetown, Barbados, on September 30.

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