THE Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) continues its outreach across Region 10, with the aim of targeting outlying communities and tapping into their communal strengths by providing the needed financial and technical assistance.
On Tuesday, officials from the regional lender visited the communities of Ituni, Aroaima, Hururu and Kwakwani. They engaged scores of residents on the requirements needed to qualify for loans to start or expand their businesses. The prospective clients were told that LEN is not only about approving loans, but about ensuring that those businesses remain viable and grow. “We are not only here to give loans, we are walking you step by step, we want to ensure that your business brings in revenue, we are leading you through the way. With the right nurturing, you would be surprised how your business can grow,” Dominic Henry, Business Development Officer at LEN told residents of Ituni.
Many of the residents expressed interest in expanding their agricultural businesses which is one of the main reasons LEN is targeting these communities. CEO of LEN, Tanniza Gasper, explained that LEN is on a mission to improve its presence in the various sector areas, and not just lending for regular business initiatives. Agriculture is big on the agenda and LEN is pushing to have an impact in enabling Region 10 to make strides in food security.
Gasper noted that 85 per cent of agriculture produce demanded in Region 10 come from other regions. Loan officer at LEN, Neola Glasgow, related on Tuesday that most of the interested residents are presently involved in cash crop production, poultry and cattle rearing, among other forms of agriculture. She further related that agriculture-based businesses have a different repayment cycle as opposed to monthly repayments for regular businesses. For poultry, the repayment has a nine-month cycle, with repayments required every three months. For cash crop production, the repayment is scheduled according to the growth and development of the crop.
These outlying communities have limited education and employment opportunities, therefore, LEN is on a mission to strengthen the communities’ economies, thus making them self-sustainable. This initiative is part of LEN’s five-year strategic development plan, where each sector of business diversification is targeted. These include agriculture, manufacturing, and the hospitality industry.
LEN grants loans for business initiatives from as low as $50,000 to $1 million. In 2019, the company was allocated $200M from the Ministry of Finance, which is the overseeing body.
The Board of Directors, headed by Chairman Orrin Gordon, would have considered the need to raise the ceiling for lending and will submit the proposal to the Ministry of Finance for approval. The proposal suggests that loans can be approved to as much as $7M and there will also be case-by-case evaluation for much larger businesses.
LEN’s basic requirements is the submission of working capital. Many of the residents of these outlying communities related that they have no collateral to access the loans. Director of LEN, Denise Belgrave, related that the residents can still access these loans through a guarantor. The aim, she said, is to work with everyone, putting every possibility on the table, to ensure the loans are secured. The age requirement is between 18 to 65 years old. LEN’s interest rate is 8 per cent across the board. The company will be visiting other Region 10 communities such as Mabura, Muritaro and Malali in the next few weeks.