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Increasing Financing for Caribbean SMEs with Credit Ratings

Feb 12, 2014

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, has approved a US $150,000 grant to support the Caribbean Information & Credit Rating Services (CariCRIS) in Trinidad and Tobago 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. IDB Country Representative Michelle Cross Fenty and Wayne Dass, CEO of CariCRIS, will sign the project agreement in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on February 12, 2014.

This 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 Trinidad and Tobago 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 Trinidad and Tobago in a 2010 MIF project. A study by Kairi Consultants estimated that there are 18,000 SMEs in Trinidad and Tobago, accounting for an estimated 28% of GDP, and roughly 25% of total employment. CariCRIS is headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, but CariCRIS ratings are also widely utilized in the rest of the Caribbean, with more than half of its ratings having been conducted outside of Trinidad and Tobago. While SMEs in this project are located in Trinidad and Tobago, the commercial banks involved have a regional presence and will be able to utilize 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.” 


About the MIF


The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, is funded by 39 donors and supports private sector-led development benefitting low-income populations and the poor - their businesses, their farms, and their households. The aim is to give them the tools to boost their incomes: access to markets and the skills to compete in those markets, access to finance, and access to basic services, including green technology. A core MIF mission is to act as a development laboratory - experimenting, pioneering, and taking risks in order to build and support successful micro and SME business models. More information at www.fomin.org.

About CariCRIS

CariCRIS is the first and only credit rating agency for the Caribbean region. It was established in 2004 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, with investments from MIF and other regional players, to foster the development of the region’s capital markets. CariCRIS provides ratings to SMEs, bond issuers, financial intermediaries, public and private corporations, and sovereigns. A CariCRIS credit rating is an objective assessment of an entity’s credit worthiness relative to other debt issuing entities in a defined Caribbean region. More information at www.caricris.com


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