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KINGSTON, Jamaica – Credit unions in the United States are not the only ones courting small business owners. Churches Co-Cooperative CU here has launched a campaign to woo small and micro businesses that aims to segment the more than $1 billion in loans it dispersed in 2004. Nearly three quarters of those were personal loans, said Basil Naar, Churches’ general manager. Business owners would be able to apply for loans up to $20 million with “competitive” rates, Naar said. He said small businesses on the island tend to borrow between $5 million and $15 million while micro businesses apply for loans between $50,000 and $80,000. This year, the CU will shift from personal loans to business loans in part because of less funding coming from government agencies but mostly because last year’s impressive lending numbers has caused Churches to get creative with raising other forms of revenue. Interest income from loans and advances improved 21% in 2004 to $240 million for the CU.

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