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Jamaica Sweeps Prestigious C'bean Microfinance Awards In Miami

JAMAICAN entrepreneurs and leaders in the microfinance industry won the top awards at the Citi-CMFA Annual Caribbean Microfinance Awards, which brought the curtains down on the 6th Caribbean Microfinance Forum at the Doubletree Hilton Airport Hotel in Miami, Florida between July 6 and 9.

Well-known development specialist Maureen Webber, founder and CEO of Development Options, emerged as the region's Most Outstanding Microfinance Leader, with Marcus James, the CEO of Access Financial Services winning the runner-up award in a region wide search adjudicated by a panel comprising representatives from the IDB/Multilateral Investment Fund, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Development Bank of Jamaica, the EU/ACP Programme of the European Commission and Citi Jamaica. Webber, whose name is synonymous with microfinance and entrepreneurial development in Jamaica and the Caribbean, was lauded for significant work spanning over three decades in the design of programmes, which have been integral in shaping the Caribbean microfinance landscape.

"I pay tribute to the late Michael Manley, who entrusted me with the position of heading the Policy Review Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister that led to the design, planning and implementation of several major projects including the design and roll out of the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA)", said an emotional Webber, who fought back the tears in accepting the award from Ramesh Persaud, the Chairman of the Caribbean Microfinance Alliance (CMFA), the conveners of the Microfinance Forum and Awards.

Emotions ran high and the tears also flowed for June 'Angela' Anderson Hope, the popular winner of the Outstanding Micro-entrepreneur of the Year Award for her expanding bag juice manufacturing business on Bond Street in downtown Kingston. Her business 'GelaCooler', which has been assessed and certified by the Jamaica Bureau of Standards, has had tremendous impact on the Denham Town community, currently employing 12 people, most of whom are inner-city youth, whom she has personally rescued from the streets.

"I am nervous to address you this evening", said an overwhelmed Anderson-Hope, "all I want to say is thank you all very much!" as she hugged her award presented by Sergio Barrero of the Citi Foundation. The runner-up for the Micro-entrepreneur of the Year Award was Odette Ottey of Rock Mountain Herbs, who has diversified her farming operations located in Rock Hall St. Andrew, into a growing strawberry production business that supplies a number of supermarkets and wholesalers in Kingston.

JN Small Business Loans, which is the largest micro-credit provider in Jamaica, edged out Jamaica Microcredit Limited to cop the Responsible Microfinance Institution award, which was collected by General Manager Gillian Hyde and long-serving Deputy GM, Thelma Yong.

This is Jamaica's best ever showing at the prestigious Caribbean Microfinance Awards, which have been funded over the years by the Citi Foundation in partnership with the CMFA.

The CMFA promotes global best practices among its growing membership of over 25 microfinance institutions in the Caribbean by providing training and capacity building workshops and a range of other value-added services. Motivated by the need to provide greater levels of access to finance for micro enterprises and entrepreneurs, the Alliance materialized out of the Caribbean Microfinance Capacity Building Project (CARIB-CAP) that was jointly funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group), the European Commission, Citi Foundation and the Caribbean Development Bank.

Release Date: 
Monday, July 20, 2015