Arlene Swaby fuels her business with focus and access – Jamaica Observer

Arlene Swaby inside her small grocery store in the Manning’s Hill district of St Andrew (Photos: Joseph Wellington)

While the journey of entrepreneurship has been anything but easy for small grocery store owner Arlene Swaby, she is proof that with the right approach and a little support, small business owners can thrive.

“I started after my job was laid off in 1999. I used to run a kitchen store first, and then when it closed I opened the grocery store here,” recalled Swaby, a long-time resident of the Manning’s district. Hill in San Andres.

“After a good while, I decided I wanted to expand, but it’s not easy when you don’t have any backing,” Swaby added.

He explained that the support he needed came through a loan from Access Financial Services (AFS).

According to Swaby, the process was straightforward, and the 56-year-old mother of two used the loan money to expand Sister P Groceries, a business she operates out of a section of her home near Smoky Vale.

“There were no problems, nothing compared to what I’ve heard some people go through with other financial institutions. I’ve had over 20 loans since the first one in 2015, and I can tell you with certainty that I wouldn’t have been able to move as fast if it wasn’t for Access,” said Swaby, who used the loans. of AFS to renovate the space from which it also sells haberdashery.

Describing Swaby as one of his best clients, AFS CEO Frederick Williams said his is not an unusual story.

“We have so many success stories like Miss Arlene’s – small business owners taking their time and building their business, generating income for themselves and their families, and even providing employment in some cases. This is what Access is all about. Creating opportunities within the microenterprise sector for small and medium microenterprises that are underserved by traditional market players,” said Williams.

Swaby was a special guest at the recent opening of the Access Business Loan Centre, the newest division of AFS, located in Sampars Plaza in the Cross Roads area of ​​St Andrew.

The center aims to increase focus and convenience for micro-entrepreneurs in Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas by offering a wide range of credit products, each tailored to the needs of business operators at different stages of growth. of your business.

With loan amounts starting as low as $10,000, micro business owners have access to financing to purchase goods, replenish inventory and purchase equipment.

A strong believer in being self-employed, Swaby is encouraging other women and small operators to take the leap of faith.

“I always say that it is better to do business for yourself. Even before I had a full-time job, I used to buy my products from the small market and sell them. Right now, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the stress of working for people.

“I get up and open my store at 7:30 in the morning and sometimes I close at 9:00 at night. As long as I can cover my loan payments every Monday, everything else is fine. Access has been a great help. Right through COVID you can call them for help. They really treat me well,” Swaby said.

ArleneSwaby proudly points out some of the items for sale at her shop in the Manning’s Hill district of St Andrew.

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