JIS News

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, has endorsed the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), a three-year programme aimed at facilitating and supporting the growth and development of social enterprises.

The initiative was launched by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), at a press briefing, held on June 5 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in Kingston.

The Foundation recently received US$1 million from the USAID to develop and implement the programme.

Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said that social entrepreneurs have been carrying out their roles very quietly without any unnecessary fanfare.

“I commend (Jamaica National) for putting this very important matter on the front burner with the timely launch of this Social Enterprise Boost Initiative. I believe it is a valuable springboard from which to build greater cohesion and policy development for the sector for the longer term,” she said.

The State Minister added that social enterprises, owing to their tremendous impact, must be fully integrated into the existing enterprise support systems.

“This initiative will certainly help to facilitate and support social enterprise groups in Jamaica. This is a big step forward for social enterprise and Jamaica at large,” she added.

The State Minister cited the tabling of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprise policy in the House of Representatives.

“This is something that the government is really working on, because we know that it can revolutionise our country. Although most social enterprises are small and many are fragile, the sector has been attracting growing interest from policy makers, young people, entrepreneurs and established businesses,” Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said.

Meanwhile, Project Manager of SEBI, Jennifer Sharrier, explained that social enterprises are commercial businesses, which provide products or services at a cost to the marketplace.

“SEBI’s mission is therefore to mobilise increased employment, investment and revenue within communities across Jamaica in a socially responsible manner, and in doing so improve the nation’s economic, social and environmental conditions,” Miss Sharrier said.

She noted that this will be done by assisting social enterprises to become efficient and effective businesses by improving their performance and helping them to produce and provide affordable, sustainable, and profitable goods or services.

As part of the facilitation process, SEBI will provide enterprises with the opportunity to be part of a business clinic, especially those organisations that have the greatest potential for growth.

“There will also be training and development, including online resources, workshops and seminars, as well as access to ongoing business support. By working with organisations like Jamaica Business Development Corporation and the Office of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the West Indies, we will be able to create a winning formula for those operating within the social economy,” Miss Sharrier said.

For her part, Mission Director, USAID, Denise Herbol, said the project will focus on development efforts in the social enterprise sector.

“At the end of the three years, we can expect to see an increase in the technical capacity of social enterprises, having developed the prerequisite business skills, knowledge and information to build sustainable organisations,” Miss Herbol said.

For further information on SEBI, persons can contact the JNBS Foundation at 926 -1344 extension 4746 or email: sebi@jnbs.com.

Contact: Latonya Linton