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The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) US$910,000 three-year ‘Innovating Social Sector Financing’ project, which is designed to develop a platform for social enterprises seeking funding to execute their engagements, was officially launched on Tuesday (August 4) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

Some 150 social service groups islandwide, including churches, foundations, non-governmental organisations and social enterprises, many of which are headed by females, as well as 10,000 poor and vulnerable persons are expected to benefit from the undertaking.

The initiative is being facilitated under a Technical Cooperation Agreement that was signed in December 2019 by the JSE and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which is providing US$420,000 of the financing. The remaining sum is being provided by the JSE.

Under the project, an ecosystem will be developed to assist social-sector organisations to raise capital and resources to finance and bring projects tailored for the society’s needy to fruition, via the JSE’s Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) platform.

Speaking at the launch, JSE Managing Director, Marlene Street Forrest, said the project will assist in ensuring that the JSSE provides a conduit through which innovative capital can be sought, financed and disbursed to target beneficiaries.

“The project aims to arm us with empirical data, proper matrix and robust platforms and programmes… so that we provide access [and] are also able to make informed decisions to ensure [the] overall growth, prosperity and sustainable development of Jamaica,” she explained.

Additionally, the Managing Director said the initiative will enable the engagement of the financial sector and wider economy towards achieving a greater good through the funding and capacity building needed for sustainable development “with people at the centre”.

She pointed out that as the JSE pushes to provide a fair, efficient and transparent social engagement market, the long-standing partnership forged between the JSE and the IDB “will go a far way in achieving this objective”.

Mrs. Street Forrest also highlighted the support of the JSE’s Board of Directors, the JSSE’s Board of Governors, and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps in the development of the social stock exchange and the initiative being embarked on, along with the Project Steering Committee’s input.

“We have all the things in place to ensure that this project will be a success; we are ready,” she declared.

For her part, General Manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Country Department Group and Jamaica Country Office, Therese Turner-Jones, said the project represents the continuation of the partnership forged not only with the JSE but also with the wider nation, spanning 50 years.

She said the project’s implementation and general investment in the social sector is timely, particularly in light of the negative social and economic impact resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We are looking to raise close to $7 million in assistance for service organisations… and we’re hoping to get at least 2,000 social investors to make donations to these organisations. We are [also] hoping that more women and small entrepreneurs will be involved in this… as they are in the social services sector,” Mrs. Turner-Jones added.

Among the organisations whose projects have been selected for funding via the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange are the Agency for Inner City Renewal (AIR), the Alpha Institute, Choose Life International, Deaf Can!, and Spring Praise Jamaica.

Additionally, two COVID-19 special projects – Teen Challenge Jamaica and Mona Tech Engineering Services – have been selected.

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