Kingston, Jamaica, September 3, 2012 - Citi Foundation, the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance, and the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) are pleased to announce the winners for the 1st annual Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean. The Awards recognize a microfinance institution and a micro-entrepreneur that have each demonstrated remarkable success in the English-speaking Caribbean. Five finalists were chosen for each award and a jury of six experts on microfinance and micro-entrepreneurship in the region has selected the winners.
The winner of the Excellence in Microfinance Award will receive a cash prize of US$10,000 and the winner of the Excellence in Micro-entrepreneurship Award will receive a cash prize of US$3,000. Both winners will also receive a short video on their business or institution, an award certificate and a trip to the award ceremony at the Caribbean Microfinance Forum IV in Bridgetown, Barbados on September 30, 2012.
The winner of the Excellence in Microfinance Award is:
Access Financial Services (Jamaica)
Access Financial Services has established itself as one of the premier providers of loans in the Jamaican microfinance sector, serving 5,599 active Business loan clients through its fourteen branch island-wide retail network. Founded in 2000, the company was successfully listed on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange by 2009. Access has prioritised “working class entrepreneurs” as a key market segment and consistently provides convenient and innovative loan products for this segment. Despite a challenging economic environment which saw a 1.1% decline in Jamaica’s Gross Domestic Product, in 2011 Access recorded a 35% increase in the number of loans disbursed.
The winner of the Excellence in Micro-entrepreneurship Award is:
Javier Basto, Basto & Sons Plantain Chips (La Inmaculada Credit Union, Belize)
In 2008 Javier Basto began frying plantains in his backyard and selling them to friends and neighbors in affordable US$0.50 bags in Guinea Grass Village, Belize. From that humble beginning, his plantains gradually gained popularity for their unique and tasty flavour, and he soon expanded with financing from La Inmaculada Credit Union for equipment and improved facilities. The Basto & Sons product line now includes cassava chips and churros (a fried flour-based chip) and is sold to grocery stores in Orange Walk Town, Corozal Town and Belize City. Sales have risen quickly from US$39,000 in 2009 to US$68,250 in 2011. Mr. Basto now has 7 employees and sells 5,000 bags per week with a goal of expanding to 7,000 bags per week.
The 4 other finalists for the Excellence in Microfinance Award were:
- Churches Cooperative Credit Union (Jamaica)
- First Regional Cooperative Credit Union (Jamaica)
- Institute of Private Enterprise Development (Guyana)
- Seva MFI (Suriname)
“The microfinance institution finalists demonstrate professionalism, innovation and above all, dedication to their clients, as they achieve success in Caribbean marketplace. By helping their clients grow their businesses through loans, training and other services, these institutions are fostering economic development in their communities,” said Tomas Miller, MIF Access to Finance Unit Chief and Awards Jury Member.
The other 4 finalists for the Excellence in Micro-entrepreneurship Award were:
- Romaldo Cal, Cal’s Bakery (La Inmaculada Credit Union, Belize)
- Somaroe Khemradj, Rice Farmer (Seva MFI, Suriname)
- Beverley Paton, Beverley Grocery (Institute of Private Enterprise Development, Guyana)
- Norine Roberts, S & N Enterprise (Grenville Cooperative Credit Union, Grenada)
“All of the finalists for the micro-entrepreneur award started off with just an idea and a small amount of capital to start their business. They are engaged in diverse activities such as baking, farming and retailing, and in just the past three years, most of them have more than doubled their annual sales. Through remarkable drive, ingenuity and hard work, these entrepreneurs have overcome challenges, expanded their business, hired new employees and helped to improve their respective communities,” said Winsome Leslie, MIF Senior Specialist and Team Leader for the Caribbean Microfinance Capacity Building (CARIB-CAP) I and II programs.
Dennis Evans, Citi Cluster Head for the Caribbean said, “This initiative is part of Citi's commitment to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of the communities where we are present. Citi is proud to be working with the IDB MIF in supporting the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance, and to be launching the Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards (CMA) in the English-speaking Caribbean for the first time. I look forward to meeting and congratulating the winners in person at the awards ceremony.”
The Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards will be presented at the Caribbean Microfinance Forum IV in Bridgetown, Barbados on September 30, 2012. The Forum is an important knowledge-sharing venue for microfinance institutions in the Caribbean and discussions this year will cover issues such as the state of microfinance in the Region, responsible microfinance (i.e. client protection, etc.) and the Smart Campaign, the value of a Caribbean microfinance network as a mechanism for knowledge-sharing, and development of the microfinance industry. Individuals interested in attending can contact Villet Bennet at Villet.firstname.lastname@example.org. The Caribbean Microfinance Forum is being held in conjunction with the Inter-American Forum on Microenterprise (FOROMIC) hosted by MIF/IDB on Oct. 1-3, 2012, in Barbados.
The Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean are financed by the Citi Foundation and administered by the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance (CMFA) and the MIF. The awards program has 3 goals: 1) to raise awareness about microfinance; 2) to build awareness about the important role microentrepreneurs play in their local economies; and 3) to develop the next generation of microfinance networks.