USVI small business credit initiative helps provide advanced eye healthcare to the Caribbean

Plessen Eye is a state-of-the-art ophthalmic ambulatory surgical center run by Dr Jan Tawakol and Dr Tasnim Khan, a husband-and-wife team, on the island of St Croix. Although there was an increasing demand for ophthalmological services in the US Virgin Islands, Plessen Eye needed to finance improvements for the ophthalmic ambulatory surgical center. Since the centre was the couple’s first business venture, a traditional bank loan was not an option.

With the support of the USVI’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) funding, Merchants Commercial Bank, an FDIC-insured community bank, made an $850,000 term loan allowing Plessen Eye to acquire equipment, make leasehold improvements, and open their business.

Since the original loan, Plessen Eye has been able to help fill the island’s backlog of patients awaiting cataract and other critical eye surgeries. The centre has expanded with 15 full-time employees and one part-time employee.

“The territory has benefited tremendously by adding the state-of-the-art facility to the island’s healthcare system,” said Ro Khiani, chief lending officer at Merchants Commercial Bank. “Ophthalmologists now have a place to perform critical eye surgeries in the Caribbean region to meet patient demand.”

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