First National Bank, St. Lucia
1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited is at the heartbeat of corporate and commercial Banking in St. Lucia offering a suite of banking products and services tailored to the needs of its customers. Customer service excellence is forever foremost in the minds of management and staff who recognize the value of the customer to the business. The Bank ensures that its customers can access their accounts electronically 24/7 through cutting edge technology. It must be noted that the Bank was the first to introduce mobile banking to St. Lucia.
The Bank is the only financial institution which has established an MSME Competency Unit specifically created to focus on serving the needs of MSMEs here on island, which in our opinion are largely underserved. In establishing the Unit, we took the opportunity to partner with the German Savings Bank Foundation for International Co-operation (SBFIC) which as part of their social responsibility mandate, include working with indigenous banks throughout the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) to improve the capacity of MSMEs in the member countries.
1st National Bank saw this as a timely initiative and partnered with the SBFIC on the pilot project. We believe that our MSMEs contribute significantly to private sector activities and are vital for the economic growth of the country. They are however faced with many challenges which include access to finance and other support services, to ensure their growth and sustainability.
The MSME unit was launched in March 2020 to provide MSMEs with solutions, through our products and services which are specifically designed to do just that. We continue to work closely with them to provide guidance so they can gain access to the much-needed support services to ensure their growth and development.
As it relates to support and access to finance, we have also partnered with the Eastern Caribbean Partial Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECPCGC) which is a guarantee fund set up to ease the access to finance for MSMEs within the ECCU. It is an initiative of the World Bank, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and Governments of the ECCU, where the Governments each contributed USD2M to fund the project.
The ECPCGC will guarantee up to 75 percent of the collateral needed on loans taken by MSMEs, with the MSMEs contributing the additional 25 percent. The maximum loan is XCD300K at a maximum guarantee term of 10 years or the loan term, whichever comes first. I want to emphasize here that it is not a grant but a loan and has to be repaid.
1st National Bank is very pleased to partner with the ECPCGC to be the Bank for MSMEs in St. Lucia.