The banking sector came under heavy criticism on Wednesday, as the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) fraternity came out in a no-nonsense mode to tackle the issues and get answers to the problems that they encounter to do business. Chief among the concerns, of many, was the issue of obtaining loans from banks.
The venue, Terra Nova Hotel, was filled with passion mixed with searing emotions as key stakeholders converged last Wednesday (July 3) for the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica sponsored — “Time for Growth — Unlocking the Power of the SME” — forum.
In what took the form of a panel discussion, the key stakeholders and members of the SMEs sat down to “talk the things” in an effort to find common ground to facilitate growth and development of the sector.
With Jamaica’s having high ranking for its business environment and favourable ratings for starting a business, the sentiments of members of the SME were not reflective of these ratings.
Donovan Wignall, President of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Alliance, who was a representative on the panel, called out the bankers for not being easy to deal with. He pointed out that the treatment of SMEs was unfair.
This he believes is largely due to the changing nature of the business environment and the type of business models, ideas, and people that are entering the sector. As a result, Wignall stated that strong support will be needed to help these entities to grow. He reasoned that currently, “getting a car loan by the bank is much easier than getting one for SME financing”.
These same sentiments were echoed by several of the small business owners, who voiced their disgust and frustration, as the onerous bank requirements currently act as an infringement to the growth of their businesses.