$68M EU Funding Support for Civil Society Initiative

Photo: Melroy Sterling Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, addressing the launch of the EU-funded Civil Society Boost Initiative (CSBI) today (March 8) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston. At right is Executive Director of RISE Life Management Services, which is spearheading the initiative, Sonita Morin Abrahams.

Story Highlights

  • The European Union (EU) has provided $68 million (€500,000) in grant funding support towards the two-year Civil Society Boost Initiative (CSBI) being implemented by RISE Life Management Services.
  • The project aims to increase the capacity of Jamaican civil society organisations (CSOs)/non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to operate effectively and improve service delivery to their target populations.
  • Beneficiary agencies of the two-year project include those serving women; children; at-risk youth; the disabled; persons living with HIV and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; and those involved in environment and climate-change engagements.

The European Union (EU) has provided $68 million (€500,000) in grant funding support towards the two-year Civil Society Boost Initiative (CSBI) being implemented by RISE Life Management Services.

The project aims to increase the capacity of Jamaican civil society organisations (CSOs)/non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to operate effectively and improve service delivery to their target populations.

The initiative was officially launched Wednesday (March 8) during a ceremony held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

Among the initiative’s offerings is an intensive training programme for 10 selected CSOs/NGOs, as well as the administration of a $10-million mini grants programme to CSOs for project implementation.

Beneficiary agencies of the two-year project include those serving women; children; at-risk youth; the disabled; persons living with HIV and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community; and those involved in environment and climate-change engagements.

Other interventions include the establishment of a CSO Network through collective impact, and the establishment of social enterprise initiatives.

In her comments, Executive Director of RISE Life Management Services, Sonita Morin Abrahams, said the CSBI aims to transform the CSO landscape through 24 months of integrated actions.

She informed that a nine-month capacity-building training programme for 10 CSOs will be undertaken, covering succession planning; communications; public relations and social media; financial management; fundraising, micro-franchising and other social enterprise projects; basic information technology; and measurement tools for project success.

A CSO Capacity Development Handbook will also be developed to provide organisations with guidelines on proper governance and operational structures.

“Other activities being implemented under the initiative are social enterprise for marginalised women and youth through micro-franchising; governance and advocacy training for community-based organisations; and environmental advocacy training for communities,” Mrs. Morin Abrahams said.

She added that at the end of the initiative, it is expected that there will be increased capacity for sustainability and project implementation, with positive impact on vulnerable communities.

Ms. Morin Abrahams further stated that it is also expected that there will be a reduction in unemployment among women and youth in marginalised communities.

In her remarks, Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte said the CSBI would encourage the creation of new partnerships between CSOs, so that these organisations can better promote access to social services for vulnerable and underserved populations.

“Under the initiative, RISE will collaborate with the United Nations Development Programme and the Jamaica Environment Trust to implement advocacy and governance training for community-based organisations, including youth clubs in six vulnerable communities,” Mrs. Malahoo Forte said.

She stated that this “collective impact approach” is a positive move that will improve the ability of these organisations to deliver services to the communities they serve.

“The initiative also involves a very important social enterprise component in the form of a programme targeted towards reducing unemployment among women and youth in marginalised communities,” the Attorney General said.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte said the programme will see 90 persons being trained in the operation of micro-franchise, which will provide them with the opportunity to uplift themselves and their families financially, while contributing to innovation in society and economic growth.

“The Seprod and Mussons Group of Companies are to be commended for partnering with RISE in supporting this component of the initiative,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Head of the European Union Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said the $68-million provision marks the first time that funding of this sort was being allocated to facilitate capacity building of CSOs.

“Additionally, we see the benefit in regranting. This gives power to smaller civil society organisations that are able to bid for a smaller amount of funds from a larger pool held by civil society organisations such as RISE Life,” she said.

“This means more programmes in a wider variety of fields giving assistance to those most in need and most vulnerable. It also means a more viable civil society that can better advocate for the people they vouch for,” she added.

Ambassador Wasilewska also stated that the EU sees civil society organisations as an integral part of a well-functioning society, as the voice for the voiceless and providing a protective canopy over the society.

JIS Social