Sun | Aug 14, 2022

Access approved!

Microfinance entity granted BOJ licence

Published:Friday | August 5, 2022 | 12:07 AM
From left: Edison Galbraith, general manager for channels, relationships and marketing at the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); Frederick Williams, chief executive officer of Access Financial Services (AFS); Deveta McLaren, AFS sales and marketing manager
From left: Edison Galbraith, general manager for channels, relationships and marketing at the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); Frederick Williams, chief executive officer of Access Financial Services (AFS); Deveta McLaren, AFS sales and marketing manager; Neville James, AFS board member; and Milverton Reynolds, outgoing DBJ managing director, pose for the camera at the official opening of the Access Business Loans Centre in Kingston on March 29.

As new Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) regulations under the Microcredit Act 2021 go into effect, Access Financial Services Limited (AFS) has announced that the entity has received approval of its application for a licence from the central bank.

Effective July 30, all microfinance institutions (MFIs) operating in Jamaica must have a licence from the BOJ or have applied for one. The act seeks to regulate MFIs and provide greater financial inclusion, improved customer service and greater disclosure to customers.

“We have long supported the move towards greater transparency and accountability within the sector. Access Financial has always operated at the highest level of compliance and corporate governance, and our customers expect that from us. We’ve spent the last several months working assiduously to ensure that all our policies and internal procedures are in line with the regulations, and our newly issued licence is acknowledgement of that effort. AFS customers can rest assured that we will continue to meet their needs in this new regulatory environment and will play our part to ensure that the rest of the industry gets on board quickly,” said AFS chief executive officer Frederick Williams.

As a listed company, Access Financial Services has also formally advised the Jamaica Stock Exchange of the BOJ’s approval to operate under the new regulations. With assets under management of just over $5.6 billion, AFS is one of the leading players in the microfinance sector. The company generated revenues of $1.97 billion and consolidated net profit after tax of $438 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.

The company provides both personal and business loans, catering to the micro business sector which comprises an estimated 425,000 micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) operating businesses across the island.

“Our role in providing support for these small businesses is critical to the economy. Whether it’s funding to purchase goods, replenish stock or buy equipment, we fill that gap for this largely underserved sector. MSMEs are the lifeblood of any economy so systems that help to regulate and ensure fiduciary discipline and good governance are essential for our collective growth,” said Williams.

Access Financial serves customers through a network of 17 locations islandwide, with the latest addition being the Access Business Loan Centre located in Cross Roads, Kingston, which opened in March this year.