I first met Derek Walcott, who died on March 20, in the late 1960s when we both worked as reporters at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Evening News in my native Trinidad.
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CariCRIS to start rating local SMEs
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, has approved a US$150,000 grant to support CariCRIS to expand its small and medium enterprise (SME) rating activities, and to work with commercial banks to incorporate CariCRIS’ SME ratings in their loan appraisal process. As a result of mainstreaming CariCRIS’ external and independent credit risk rating among banks, credit-worthy SMEs will have increased access to diversified financial products, which in turn will enable them to increase their revenues and employment. CariCRIS is contributing US$65,000 in in-kind and cash counterpart financing.
The project will facilitate credit ratings for 60 SMEs and will work with four commercial banks to use CariCRIS ratings in their loan appraisal process. The use of CariCRIS credit ratings by commercial banks in T&T will mean that default risk can be more easily and realistically assessed, increasing efficiency of SME lending for banks and increasing access to finance for SMEs.
Additionally, the project will expand CariCRIS’ capacity to rate non-bank financial institutions such as credit unions as well as insurance companies. The new project seeks to scale the existing CariCRIS SME credit rating model piloted with 25 SMEs in T&T in a 2010 MIF project. A study by Kairi Consultants estimated that there are 18,000 SMEs in T&T, accounting for an estimated 28 per cent of GDP, and roughly 25 per cent of total employment. CariCRIS is headquartered in T&T, but its ratings are also widely utilised in the rest of the Caribbean, with more than half of its ratings having been conducted outside of this country.
While SMEs in this project are located in T&T, the commercial banks involved have a regional presence and will be able to utilise CariCRIS credit ratings in SME loan appraisals throughout the Caribbean. Project team leader Winsome Leslie of the MIF said: “Commercial banks’ tendency to avoid what they perceive as risky lending has severely limited the supply of SME finance, not only in Trinidad and Tobago but throughout the Caribbean. “We believe this project with CariCRIS will help both banks and entrepreneurs find new partners and will allow both sectors to grow.”
CariCRIS’ CEO Wayne Dass said: “We are delighted to partner with the MIF in this important SME development initiative. “The project will not only mainstream the use of risk ratings in SME lending, thereby leading to increased access to finance by the SMEs, it will also result in more efficient and competitive enterprises in the region.”