Access Financial scholarship awardees start new school year on a high

IT has been a great start for young Jaheim Bright, a 12-year-old seventh grade student at Black River High School in St Elizabeth, who began his high school journey just over a week ago.

On the heels of his outstanding performance in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations which landed him a place at his school of choice, Bright is now celebrating an award from Access Financial Services (AFS), which named him among a group of top performers in the company’s Education Assistance Programme (EAP) for 2023.

Bright and eight other students, three of whom are at the tertiary level, are this year’s beneficiaries in the EAP which was designed to support the children of AFS employees.

“I cannot tell you how much we appreciate the recognition and support from Access. It has come in so handy at a time when we have increased expenses. I’m so happy to be working for a company that looks out for its employees in this way,” said Bright’s mother Latoya Levy who is a personal loans officer at the Santa Cruz branch of the microfinance entity.

Paris Nash, a second-year student at the Northern Caribbean University, who received a cash grant of $100,000, is the daughter of Jade Newman who works at the Christiana branch. For Nash and her mother, the award is helping to make the dream of tertiary education a reality.

“Grateful doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel right now. As a single mother, it’s really hard because the school fee is high. Paris is very excited about the programme that she’s doing, and this support is taking her one step closer to getting into the field of medicine,” said Newman as she noted that her daughter’s long-term goal is to become a pathologist.

Since its inception in 2018, AFS has invested close to $2 million in the programme, providing grants for students as well as partial tuition reimbursements for employees. So far two employees, including compliance supervisor at the May Pen branch, Karen Cobourne, have benefited from a staff tuition refund.

“Our Employee Assistance Programme is just one of the ways in which we provide support for our team members. We believe that when our employees thrive, so does the business. Many of them go above and beyond to drive our business goals and keep us growing.

“It’s only fitting that we create opportunities for them to do well on the personal side, particularly as it relates to education, both theirs and that of their children. We have been navigating several challenges over the last few years, not least of which was the pandemic, but we felt it was important to maintain this initiative for our people who are at the centre of this business,” said AFS Chief Executive Officer Hugh Campbell.

With total assets of $6.29 billion as at March 2023, representing an increase of 13 per cent year over year, Access Financial Services Limited is among the leading microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Jamaica.

The company, which became the first MFI to receive a licence from the Bank of Jamaica in 2022 under new regulations, employs just over 180 people across 17 Locations islandwide.