New reforms to increase access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be the focus when representatives from the Ministries of Finance, Attorneys General Offices, financial institutions and Chambers of Commerce throughout the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) meet for a workshop at the Marriott Resort, St Kitts and Nevis on 14 – 15 November.
SMEs are important drivers of job creation in the world, accounting as much as two thirds of employment. However, SMEs are often constrained by access to finance, limiting their growth. Recent World Bank Doing Business surveys show deterioration in access to credit for SMEs in the OECS compared with other countries. This is partly due to other countries improving their credit bureau and registry coverage, which are both absent in the OECS.
The World Bank is working with OECS governments, the ECCB and the OECS Commission to help establish the Eastern Caribbean Guarantee Corporation that will provide financial institutions with credit guarantees to improve access to financing for SMEs, thus boosting economic growth.
The participants of the two-day Workshop on Access to Finance for SMEs in the OECS will review proposed legislation for enhancing the credit environment for SMEs in the OECS. The review will focus on international standards and best practices for secured transactions reform; insolvency reforms; and credit reporting and infrastructure. Following that evaluation process, the proposed legislation will be submitted to the OECS member governments for consideration.
Nadeem M Karmali, World Bank Financial Economist says, “The proposed legislation for the establishment of an Eastern Caribbean Guarantee Corporation will be key milestone to help reduce the risk for lending to SMEs and thereby facilitate more financing for them.”