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A total of 115 entrepreneurs from six communities across the island will benefit from business support under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) $20-million Enterprise Development Project.

The entrepreneurs are from the communities of Salt Spring and Anchovy in St. James; Treadlight in Clarendon; and August Town, Greenwich Town and Denham Town in Kingston and St. Andrew.

Speaking at the official launch of the project at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (December 16), Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, said that the initiative aims to boost the capacity of the recipients through the provision of training and funding for priority equipment purchases.

The support is accepted to create spin-off benefits such as employment generation and ultimately lead to profitability and improved economic standing for many others.

Mr. Shaw said the Enterprise Development Project is in keeping with the Government’s thrust to drive national growth by supporting small entrepreneurs, many of whom have been hard hit by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Many of our communities and small operators have been hit hard by the current global pandemic. It has squeezed out already slim margins of profitability for many mom-and-pop businesses and small operators.

“As Government, we are also aware of the umbilical relationship between social ills and the unavailability of resources to support legitimate and viable economic endeavours,” he said.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and Member of Parliament for Western Kingston, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, in his remarks encouraged the beneficiaries to make the best of the opportunities that they have been given.

“Take pride in what you’re getting. It is for you to use it to benefit yourself, your families and… communities,” he said, while commending JSIF for the undertaking.

Opposition Spokesperson on Education and Training and Member of Parliament for South West St. Andrew, Dr. Angela Brown Burke, said that the support will make a difference in the lives of the beneficiaries, adding that she looked forward to the expansion of the initiative.

Managing Director, JSIF, Omar Sweeney, for his part, said that the investment aims to build communities.

“These are not cash grants; we look at the business viability, we look at the level of capital investment, training, and marketing expertise that are needed – the things that will make their business move to the next level and employ additional persons,” he noted.

Mr. Sweeney told the beneficiaries that their success will determine whether similar initiatives are implemented.

“You are now the holders of the key that will unlock similar programmes for more beneficiaries. It is your success that persons will look on and say, ‘let us put more money into these types of programmes’,” he noted.

The Enterprise Development Project is being implemented under the second phase of the $2-billion Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), which is being funded by the Government of Jamaica. ICDP II got under way on April 1, 2020 and will run up to March 31, 2023.

It aims to promote public safety and transformation through the delivery of basic infrastructure and social services within 18 communities across seven parishes in Jamaica.

These are Clarendon, Kingston, St Andrew, St Ann, St. Catherine, St. James and Westmoreland.

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