DBJ rolls out on­line por­tal for voucher fund­ing ap­pli­cants

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - Tameka Gor­don Busi­ness Re­porter

THE DEVEL­OP­MENT Bank of Ja­maica (DBJ), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Pri­vate Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica (PIOJ), has launched an on­line ap­pli­ca­tion por­tal for its Voucher for Tech­ni­cal As­sis­tance Pro­gramme (VTAP).

The fund­ing win­dow pro­vides grants to small com­pa­nies.

DBJ launched the VTAP four years ago, seeded by funds from its own re­sources. The state bank is now look­ing to the World Bank and the In­terAmer­i­can Devel­op­ment Bank for ad­di­tional cap­i­tal to grow the pool, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Mil­ver­ton Reynolds told Gleaner Busi­ness fol­low­ing the launch of the on­line por­tal on Fri­day.

“We al­lo­cated $45 mil­lion at the start,” said Reynolds.

“We are look­ing to get, with the help of the mul­ti­lat­er­als, some­where in the re­gion of about US$1.5 mil­lion to aug­ment what we are do­ing.”

The VTAP pro­vides grants for small and medium-sized com­pa­nies to ac­cess ser­vices such as train­ing pro­grammes, au­dit­ing ser­vices, mar­ket re­search, busi­ness and strate­gic plans, among oth­ers, through busi­ness devel­op­ment com­pa­nies (BDOs) ap­proved by the DBJ.

Un­der the pro­gramme, the DBJ is­sues elec­tronic vouch­ers for the sup­port ser­vices to the BDOs, with the MSMEs pay­ing a por­tion of the over­all cost for the ser­vice.

Since May 2014, some 434 vouch­ers have been is­sued to 289 en­trepreneurs Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the Devel­op­ment Bank of Ja­maica Mil­ver­ton Reynolds is flanked by the bank’s Gen­eral Man­ager for the Strate­gic Ser­vices Di­vi­sion, Christo­pher Brown (left), and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Pri­vate Sec­tor Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Ja­maica Den­nis Chung at the launch of an on­line por­tal for the Voucher for Tech­ni­cal As­sis­tance Pro­gramme on Fri­day, Novem­ber 4, 2016.

across the is­land to both male- and fe­ma­le­op­er­ated busi­nesses, the DBJ said.

“These vouch­ers have al­lowed 12 loans amount­ing to $168 mil­lion and sup­port­ing $265 mil­lion in in­vest­ment,” the state in­vest­ment bank said.

IN­CREASE IN SER­VICES

The num­ber of ser­vices paid for un­der the pro­gramme was also in­creased from five to 27, given the de­mand for the in­creas­ing re­quests from both the busi­ness com­mu­nity and the par­tic­i­pat­ing fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, the DBJ said.

It is for this rea­son, the DBJ said, it

also opted to ex­pand the medium through which MSMEs ap­ply for the grants.

The www.find­msme­fi­nanc­ing.com por­tal was de­vel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UWI, Reynolds said at the launch.

The DBJ fur­ther took on the PSOJ “as a strate­gic part­ner”, to han­dle the ap­pli­ca­tions to the VTAP.

“The de­mand for vouch­ers be­came so over­whelm­ing that we could no longer han­dle the ap­pli­ca­tions in-house, so we de­cided to out­source the ad­min­is­tra­tion and man­age­ment as­pects of the pro­gramme,” Reynolds said.

But is seems that the VTAP may ex­pand even fur­ther if the DBJ fol­lows through on a sug­ges­tion from Orville Christie of Bold­eck Ja­maica Lim­ited to of­fer train­ing ser­vices on­line geared at teach­ing the fun­da­men­tals of op­er­at­ing a busi­ness.

“That’s an ex­cel­lent sug­ges­tion and we will def­i­nitely take it on board,” Reynolds said.

The idea, says Christie, is to meet en­trepreneurs where they are — at their desks, in their of­fices — since they of­ten are “too swamped” to make it to work­shops dur­ing reg­u­lar busi­ness hours.

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