Strengthening the island’s small and medium-sized business sector is one of the main objectives of a new initiative launched by the 1st National Bank Saint Lucia Ltd. this week.
The bank has partnered with the German Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC), Chamber of Commerce, and government of St. Lucia, to launch the project which is geared at both aiding the bank to better serve small and medium-sized businesses, and improving these small businesses chance of success.
Recently-appointed Managing Director Johnathan Johannes told media that the new project is expected to help create an avenue for employment.
“As you look around the Saint Lucian economy, you will realise that we have a high unemployment situation. A lot of young people coming out of secondary schools facing a difficult job market, and we see entrepreneurship and small business as an avenue for them to seek employment, not only for themselves but also to provide employment for others,” he said.
“So it’s very exciting at this time that we are partnering with the SBFIC, to not only equip our institution with the tools and techniques to adequately lend to the small business sector, but also partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, and the government of St. Lucia, to educate and equip small businesses with the tools that they need to grow, as institutions,” he said.
SBFIC Chairman Niclaus Bergmann said his organisation is pleased to be part of the project.
“The 1st National Bank is one of the key partners in our project. We know that small-medium enterprises demand other things they need: access to basic financial services. They need to get a loan sometimes and in order to fulfill this need of small enterprises, we need a strong financial partner… which is located here and who has the responsibility… for the development of the local economy, and that’s why we are happy to have the 1st National Bank on board in a project,” he said.
According to him, the 1st National Bank and the SBFIC share a common belief that banking is not just about money but also a responsibility to lookout for the well-being of its country and region.
Earlier in June, Saint Lucia and the SBFIC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Trade Enterprise Development Department (NTEDD) as part of an ongoing SBFIC initiative to strengthen SME’s in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU).