CIBC FIRSTCARIBBEAN HELPS ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH ‘CHERRY TREE TRUST’
For about nine years, Charmaine London has been operating a jewelry-making supplies shop in an air-conditioned container along Bank Hall Main Road, St. Michael.
London, who graduated from the Barbados Community College with an associate degree in graphic design, started out making and selling souvenirs to local shops. But she said that venture was not as viable as she expected, so she got into the jewelry business focusing initially on teaching classes but she later recognised that YouTube was providing prospective students with an alternative, so she switched to supplying the materials for making the products.
It was this ability to read market trends and make necessary changes that led to her business surviving nine years. “I consider that an achievement, but in recent times, particularly due to issues related to COVID-19, it has been difficult, and I have had to make adjustments,” she said.
To do so, London required capital but like many other micro-businesses, accessing the financial institutions was extremely problematic. “It seems none of them could help but I contacted The Cherry Tree Trust and I got the help I needed, and it was not difficult,” she said. In addition to loan financing, London will also receive assistance from successful and experienced businesspeople and professionals under the Trust’s mentorship programme.
She was therefore delighted to share her story at a recent presentation ceremony during which The Cherry Tree Trust received financial support from CIBC FirstCaribbean. Board member and trustee of Cherry Tree Trust, Peter Hall thanked the bank pointing out that CIBC FirstCaribbean was one of the Trust’s main partners as it sought to create opportunities for businesspeople without the means to access the normal banking channels.
The Trust is a not-for-profit registered charity, focusing on micro business interests and entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing start up or other investment capital. Hall said that it has provided unfettered loans to a cross section of businesspeople including landscapers, fashion designers, and a local DJ.
In response, Managing Director, Barbados & the OECS, Donna Wellington said CIBC FirstCaribbean aimed to help foster the entrepreneurial spirit; to see businesses including micro-businesses grow; generating employment, enriching their communities, and becoming large businesses.