Owners of Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) who are customers of the Bank of Saint Lucia (BoSL), 1st National Bank of St. Lucia, (FNB), St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla National Bank (SKNANB), the National Bank of Dominica (NDB) and the Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank (ECAB) in Antigua can now access guarantees from the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECPCGC).
BoSL and NBD were the first two institutions to sign with the Corporation in June 2020, and have been engaged in a pilot programme, during which their lending officers received training in the guarantee process. FNB and SKNANB completed their applications in August 2020, and ECAB in September 2020.
This means that eligible MSMEs in Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua can now approach these banks with their financing requests.
In the instances where the MSME qualifies, ECPCGC will act as guarantor, thus making access to financing easier for MSMEs in the region. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Monetary Council took the decision in 2018 to establish the ECPCGC which became fully operational in June 2020.
The project is being executed in conjunction with the World Bank, which has provided most of the financing to fund the programme, through the member countries. Chief Executive Officer of the ECPCGC, Carmen Gomez-Trigg, stated that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted regional businesses and, as some semblance of normalcy returns to the region, the Corporation is well poised to work with MSMEs in their recovery efforts.
The governments of the six independent ECCU countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher (Saint Kitts) and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have each injected US$2 million to fund the operations of the ECPCGC. Through this fund, the ECPCGC will guarantee 75 per cent of loans which can go up to a maximum of EC$300,000.
To access the facility, MSME operators will be required to approach a participating financial institution and go through the normal loan assessment process.
The application will then be forwarded to the ECPCGC for consideration to determine if the MSME satisfies the requirements for funding. MSME customers of other financial institutions in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union will soon benefit from the arrangement. Mrs. Gomez-Trigg says that the Corporation is currently developing a mechanism for the admission of development banks and credit unions as participating financial institutions.