“The goal of Unicomer is not just to finance the business ventures of entrepreneurs, but also to foster their sustainability and survival.”
ON the morning of Thursday the 14th March, members of the Management and Staff of Unicomer St. Lucia ltd, assembled for a press conference at Courts Ready Cash in Rodney Bay, for the commemoration of the Courts Ready Cash Microloans launch. The initiative promises to provide a solution for both existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, who experience financial constraints which hinders the growth or materialization of their enterprises. It is the objective of the Microloans initiative to boost the economic development of St. Lucia by supporting small and micro businesses. The Courts OECS Managing Director, Vincent Gordon, stated that the interest rates that will be offered by Courts Microloans will be the most competitive in the sector.
The move by UNICOMER is made with the aim of converting informal businesses in St. Lucia to formal businesses. It was stated at the commemoration, that 70 percent of businesses in St. Lucia were of the informal variety, the majority of which are owned by women. Vincent Gordon stated that, “female entrepreneurs in the informal business industry are the backbone of the economy.” As an incentive to attract more Female entrepreneurs to take advantage of the venture, Unicomer will be offering lower interests rates to women than the percentage available to men. Interests’ rates for women will be at a discount of at least 15 percent less than the rates for men. As such, female entrepreneurs will be the dominant beneficiaries of the initiative.
The maximum available amount that is being loaned at the moment will be in the sum of $10,000 EC. Applications will be reviewed and approved on an individual case basis. As such, amounts requested in excess of the stipulated maximum, may be considered.
The microloans will be run and managed through Courts Ready Cash. Unicomer will also be embarking on a financial education programme in order to instruct and enlighten applicants on matters pertaining to financial management. This education exercise will be overseen by Unicomer Corporate University, with the assistance of micro-finance officers, who will assist entrepreneurs with the creation of business plans, and with the development of leadership skills, through a series of workshops and seminars. Applying entrepreneurs who successfully complete these educational workshops will receive certification for micro business management.
The initiative is open to everyone who manages and runs their own small or micro businesses, including farmers and vendors. It was expressed by Errol Le Blanc, Managing Director of UNICOMER Caribbean South Sub-Region that “the goal of Unicomer is not just to finance the business ventures of entrepreneurs, but also to foster their sustainability and survival.” UNICOMER proposes to achieve this goal by providing the necessary marketing, financial, and accountancy guidelines to their customers. Vincent Gordon expressed his concern for the success of micro businesses in St. Lucia, as he concluded with the words, “We are passionate about the livelihoods and well-being of the people, and we will play our part in the stability of the economy.”