DBJ, Victoria Mutual Investments partner for new US$15 million SME Fund

KINGSTON, JAMAICA: The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), in association with Victoria Mutual Investments Limited (VMIL), officially signed the agreement for their new US$15 million Jamaica Actus Small and Medium Enterprise Fund (JASMEF) on Thursday, June 30, 2022, at the DBJ office on Oxford Road, Kingston.

“We’re here today to constitute the first closing of the Fund … which commemorates a partnership with the DBJ providing US$5 million, on behalf of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ),” said Hugh Grant, general manager of the DBJ’s Project Management Office. “Victoria Mutual Investments Limited team has also committed US$10 million.”

Grant credited the World Bank-funded Access to Finance (A2F) project for its support of JASMEF which is to provide risk capital financing and private equity. JASMEF will be managed by Actus Partners, which was selected out of a competitive process in 2021 to establish the fund.

VMIL President and Chief Executive Officer Rezworth Burchenson said JASMEF participants will have more liquidity, higher valuation for their businesses, mentorship, corporate governance and exposure to sound risk management principles that the DBJ, Actus Partners and the World Bank will bring to the table. He said, “I want to encourage investors that are looking on to step forward and play their role in financing this fund, because this fund will pave the way for the creation of a much more vibrant ecosystem.”

JASMEF will support at least 15 SMEs by providing access to equity or quasi-equity investments between US$100,000 and US$ 5 million, particularly to businesses operating in sectors such as technology, climate and renewable energy, agriculture, food security, health, hygiene, tourism and other areas. JASMEF’s overall target is a fund size of up to US$100 million.

“We would like to focus on high growth potential SMEs, which Jamaica is not short of at all,” said Actus Partners Director Murat Tasci. “We would like to address the financing gap when it comes to equity in Jamaica, but also the Caribbean region as well.” “Our team has a strong background in private equity as well as a keen focus on helping SMEs to not only achieve their growth goals but also enhance their ESG practices and positive impact on their communities.”

Fadwa Bennani, senior financial sector specialist and task team leader of the World Bank, who described the agreement as a milestone, thanked the GOJ, particularly the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Ministry of Finance and Public Service for its support. While noting that SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide, employ the largest number of people in aggregate and are the drivers of job creation and growth, she said, “The launch of this first-of-its-kind Jamaica-focused SME equity fund will further support the Government of Jamaica’s effort to increase SME productivity and financing in the post-Covid economic recovery phase.”

JASMEF is supported by the DBJ’s A2F project, which provides innovative financial instruments to local businesses.

The DBJ is a wholly owned Government institution that provides development financing, capacity building, public private partnership and privatisation solutions in keeping with Government policy.