Hearty congratulations for Demerara Bank as US$7M disbursed to local businesses
By Kurt Campbell
Demerara Bank, founded in 1994 through the persistence of an entrepreneurial icon, Dr. Yesu Persaud has come in for high praises for being the first domestic bank to access a US$7 million line of credit through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB’s) Trade Finance Facilitation Program (TFFP).
In November 2020, Demerara Bank was signed to the IDB’s TFFP and was granted a line of credit facility to be used to support local, small and medium enterprises.
On Wednesday, the credit was disbursed to five local companies in the mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
The beneficiaries are manufacturing giant, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL); two family-operated group of rice mills – A Cayume Hakh and Son and Golden Fleece Rice Investment -and two companies involved in the gold mining industry – Dinar Trading and Pure Diamonds Inc.
Demerara Bank’s application over the years, which has seen it grown into one of the leading domestic banks was repeatedly credited and praised for ensuring the manifestation of the much-needed partnership at a time when local businesses are reeling from the effects of countrywide flooding and amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During a ceremony at the bank’s Headquarters on Camp Road, Georgetown on Wednesday where the first batch of approved businesses was issued Letters of Sanction, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Pravinchandra Dave, explained that while the institution welcomed the financing through the IDB, it hopes to ensure it is paid off on good terms so that the line of credit can be widened going forward.
Dave said the bank would ensure it keeps the relationship in good standing so that it can continue to serve the people of Guyana, even as it looks to become the highest-ranked domestic bank.
Additionally, IDB’s Country Representative, Sophie Makonnen, explained that the discussions to secure the line of credit lasted for about three years. She said it started with many of the same persons present in the room on Wednesday and it ignited an emotion of satisfaction that even during this pandemic, this could have been achieved.
She said the IDB was happy to support local banks, which as part of the private sector is poised to lead Guyana’s economic transformation.
“Small businesses play a crucial role in the economy… It is true that they contribute a small share to GDP and job creation but we are happy to be able to support their increase in capacity… I hope there will be great success in growing your companies,” the IDB rep. said.
Meanwhile, addressing the impact of this partnership on the local economy, Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh, said the government’s role in ensuring the environment was conducive, must not be ignored.
He congratulated Demerara Bank for being the first Guyanese bank to access the facility and says he hopes it expands across the local private sector.
“The injection of this liquidity comes at a challenging time for the domestic, regional and global economy… it is to the credit of all stakeholders, including Demerara Bank, how we have navigated the COVID crisis without major disruption… this level of liquidity plays an important role, notwithstanding the immediate challenge with flooding,” Dr. Singh said.
He noted that Guyana is on the verge of remarkable transformation of its economy and once it gets over the countrywide flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic, more partnerships like this would be welcomed.
The Finance Minister said he was particularly happy that the beneficiaries were from the non-oil sector.
“We are going to get past the challenges… there will come a moment of great transition in Guyana… I am happy for the IDB’s evolving role in Guyana and I urge the bank to do more of the same,” Dr. Singh added.
But the most touching remarks came from Dr. Yesu Persaud as Chairman of the bank, with a resounding promise that the institution continues its service to the Guyanese public for many years to come.
He recalled how he spent years carrying the idea of opening a bank and then being turned down several times for the license before finally being granted one through the auspices of former President, the late Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
“We had problems but we were able to overcome those problems and before the end of this year, we hope to be the number one bank in Guyana… coming way back without help, we have done exceedingly well,” Dr. Persaud said.
In a message to the bank’s customers and clients, Dr. Persaud said, “We hope we wouldn’t let you down.”