Axcel Finance, the leading regional microfinance institution in the Caribbean, opened its door in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia. The ceremony was attended by local business leaders in the South, as well as Ministers Alva Baptiste and Moses Jn. Baptiste.
The role of small businesses in creating employment, empowering less well-endowed segments of the population and stimulating economic growth is one which the Government of St. Lucia supports and encourages.
That disclosure was made by St. Lucia Prime Minister, the Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening of the Vieux Fort branch of Axcel Finance, on the southern tip of Saint Lucia, on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Anthony told the gathering: "If we are to grow our economy, there must be short ties between foreign direct investment and the local private sector… money must circulate, and it circulates best with SME's driving growth. If we are to create more success stories, people need to have the financial opportunity."
Dr. Anthony is of the view that Investment in small business provides St. Lucia with the greatest opportunity, in the short term, to expand employment opportunities. He Explained: "100 small businesses, each employing 3 persons, means 300 persons at work. Therefore, I believe our focus on growing our SME's is correct; so that they can enhance the quality and quantity of their products and services."
Describing the economic climate in St. Lucia at this time as "extraordinarily difficult", Dr. Anthony said Axcel Finance brings a very different kind of dimension, as it seeks to target a section in the market that the banks do not really tailor their products to. Dr. Anthony is of the view that the banks do not have the capacity to understand the peculiarities that small businesses or ordinary people face, and the trust threshold (of the banks) is exceedingly high. He said institutions such as Axcel Finance have the ability to understand people, understand the needs of people, and respond to those needs accordingly.
Dr. Anthony commended Axcel on its move to the South of the island and declared: "The government and people of St. Lucia look forward to a great partnership, a partnership built on mutual respect, mutual understanding, and mutual trust."
CEO of Axcel Finance, the leading regional microfinance institution, Sam Rosenberg said he hopes Axcel's move to the South of Saint Lucia would serve as a catalyst for the growth of small businesses in that part of the island. He told the gathering: "Every business needs capital in order to invest and grow. Every dollar invested in small business is compounded by that individual business' contribution to the economy. The business buys materials, employs people, and grows. Every dollar invested in the SME's translates into job growth."
Rosenberg said Axcel is keen to build trust with its clients. He said: "We feel confident in Vieux Fort and surrounding communities where human trust comes before financial collateral; where human relationships supersede business plans and financial statements."
Wednesday's official opening ceremony was well attended by local business leaders in the South, as well as Ministers Alva Baptiste and Moses Jn. Baptiste. Prime Minister Anthony officially declared the Vieux Fort Branch of Axcel Finance open.
The new branch, located at Gablewoods South will serve Micoud, Vieux Fort, Laborie, Soufriere, Choiseul and environs. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays.