Microcredits to generate 150.000 new jobs in 2004

Microcredits for cooperatives and microenterprises constitute a key strategy of the government to generate employment in Venezuela

By El Mundo
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The government hopes that the provision of microcredits for the coming year holds steady and that the economic activities generated by these cause the creation of 150 thousand new jobs. The minister for the Development the Social Economy, Nelson Merentes, presented these figures today.

He added that the plans are directed at the organization of communities, investment projects, the development of regional funds, tourism plans, and the participation in broad-based national and foreign programs.

On the last point, Merentes indicated that there are agreements with France for projects involving plastic products and with Brazil for a line of credit. "The goal for 2004 is to triple all that has been achieved this past year," said Merentes.

37.4 billion Bolivars ($23.6 million) have been provided so far

The minister for the Development of the Social Economy also declared that this year important progress has been made in the area of microcredits, which is why the government managed to direct a large amount of money for the carrying out of projects among small and medium businesses.

The Economic and Social Development bank (Bandes), where Merentes is president, granted between January and October a total of 37.4 billion bolivars towards 17,740 credits for micro-enterprises. The sectors that benefit the most are the agriculture, tourism, mining, and hydrocarbons, which include 40% of the loans given by Bandes.

The amount represents the creation of 46,214 new jobs. The jobs generated directly by the microenterprise initiative were 15,844, whereas the indirect ones were 30,370.

High expectations

For Merentes, the number is not sufficient and for that reason he hopes that in the last two months of this year they will manage to give out another 56 billion bolivars ($35.4 million) and, with it, the generation of more jobs between January and October.

STRATEGY

Support Programs

The Ministry for the Development of the Social Economy, through the microcredit institutions that it handles, has given loans to numerous projects, including ones related to specific plans of the national Executive.

Funds have thus been directed to the program "Inside the Barrio," which have helped finance pharmacies, bakeries, and small textile companies in the barrios. In the case of Mission Robinson, the literacy campaign, support has been centered in the creation of cooperatives. The office directed by Merentes also has supported the Sucre mission, which provides grants to university students, which will create employment agencies for the organization of microcompanies.

With regard to mission Miranda, which is dedicated to the reservists of the National Armed Forces (FAN), the aid has been provided in the amount of four billion bolivars for the creation of small companies.

Also, Bandes is working to create prison cooperatives, in which inmates would be in charge of small-scale agriculture and cattle in sites adapted for these.