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Women business owners hailed as community champions by Access Financial


Small business owners and customers of Access Financial Services (AFS) celebrate their Women in Business Awards with the AFS management team (from left): Vice-president of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Brian Salmon, beauty salon owner Pauline Scott, business owner Charmaine Chambers, AFS Chief Executive Officer Hugh Campbell, livestock farmer Icilda Brown, and Vice President of Operations & Credit Catherine Thomas.



A livestock farmer from Mandeville is among three women business owners who received recognition from Access Financial Services (AFS) for work they have been doing in their communities. Hailed as community champions by the microfinance company, the women each received an AFS Women in Business Award and a cash grant of $75,000 towards their small business or community initiatives.


It was a proud moment for pig and poultry farmer Icilda Brown, who has consistently been providing support for older residents of Chantilly District for years. “There are some elderly people in the district who don’t have much, and I try my best to make sure they have food every week, whether it’s a little rice, flour or other grocery items. At Christmastime, we try to make it special for them and the children at the school. I can’t do everything, but I try to do my part. I never expected anything from Access, so I’m glad for it. They have always been a great help to me where the business is concerned. I’m really happy that they have done this for us,” said Brown, who has been an AFS customer for 12 years.


The winning trio of small business owners who walked away with Access Financial Services Women in Business Awards for 2024. From left: Pauline Scott, Charmaine Chambers and Icilda Brown each received an award and a cash grant of $75,000 towards their business or community initiative. The women received recognition for having well-run businesses while taking the time to contribute in meaningful ways to their communities.



Westmoreland native and beauty salon owner Pauline Scott was also moved by the gesture. Scott was recognised for providing care packages to persons in her community and her church family.


“This Christmas, we gave away more than 120 care packages to the elderly and the kids in the community. I’ve been doing this for years, enuh. But I didn’t take it serious. It comes naturally to me. I love to give away things. Sometimes when I go abroad, I pack four barrels and bring them back and just share it out for the community. This award means a lot to me. Access has inspired me to do even more,” declared Scott, adding that she would be finalising plans to do a back-to-school treat in August this year.


Montego Bay resident and small business owner Charmaine Chambers was recognised for providing back-to-school support for children in her community. Like Scott and Brown, she also expressed appreciation for the award and the recognition of her contribution to the community.


“The women you see here today are shining examples of what it means to do good in your neighbourhood. They are our customers, so we already know that they are strong and determined entrepreneurs who continue to overcome the challenges of doing business in Jamaica. What we have found as well is that they also have a heart of gold. They are giving back to the community in meaningful ways and creating positive impact beyond just their businesses,” said AFS Chief Executive Officer Hugh Campbell, who handed out the awards at a ceremony at the company’s head office on Thursday, January 11.


Now in its second year, the Access Financial Services Women in Business Award seeks to recognise women entrepreneurs at the micro- and small-business level who are managing their businesses well while making meaningful contributions beyond their commercial pursuits. Last year, the company awarded three women, all of whom provided support for their community during the pandemic.


“More than two-thirds of our business loan customers are women. Every day, our loans officers interact with these amazing entrepreneurs who demonstrate what the research tells us – that, whenever the woman in the household is earning, life is usually better for the entire family. Our Women in Business Awardees prove that they are not just about making life better for their own families but also for the people of their communities; and we believe that this is worthy of recognition and celebration,” declared Campbell.


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