JIS News

The diaspora is being lobbied to support three projects, for which the organisers are seeking to raise $33 million on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) to fund ongoing implementation.

Managing Director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) of which the JSSE is a subsidiary, Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, says the listed engagements are the ‘Stop the Violence’ project (formerly ‘Love Changes Lives’), being administered by Spring Praise Jamaica, which is seeking $17 million; the Shalom Project, submitted by Choose Life International that is looking to raise $10 million; and the JaMIN Music Entrepreneurship Project, for which $6 million is being sought by the Agency for Inner-city Renewal.

They are among the initial five social intervention initiatives that were listed and came to market in 2019 when the JSSE was launched.

Dr. Street Forrest was speaking during the recent Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in downtown Kingston.

Praise Jamaica, through the faith-based Stop the Violence initiative, is seeking to address the challenge of antisocial disruptions affecting schools.

This, by transforming the lives of primary and secondary students through character development targeting thoughts and behaviour.

The entity has, to date, raised approximately $8.79 million of the $17 million being sought, according to the JSSE website.

Choose Life partners with schools and grassroots NGOs under the Shalom Project to train and empower persons in suicide prevention, stress management, conflict resolution, trauma intervention and basic counselling.

The website indicates that the entity has, so far, raised $2.56 million of their targeted $10 million.

The JaMIN project incorporates a state-of-the-art music production studio and learning laboratory.

Through these facilities, the entity focuses on using music and entrepreneurship initiatives to create an alternative pathway for young persons who would normally be engaged in illicit activities.

The long-term goal is to provide learners with certification to facilitate their matriculation to tertiary education in music-based disciplines.

Approximately $1.9 million of the $6 million being sought for the project has already been raised.

The engagements already fully funded are the Alpha School of Music Project, which generated $20.97 million to surpass the $19 million that was being sought, and Deaf Can! Coffee Project, which realised the targeted $7.5 million.

The school of music, which was submitted by the Alpha Institute, seeks to improve and enrich the lives of marginalised youth by providing education, skills training, Christian values, and workforce development, while encouraging and empowering them to become disciplined and contributing members of society.

The Deaf Can! Coffee project, which involves an experimental coffee farm, focuses on positioning hearing-impaired youth in entrepreneurship and training them to use their heightened senses of taste, smell, sight, and touch to deliver top-quality service.

Dr. Street Forrest said the JSE was prompted to initiate JSSE partly by the fact that social enterprise “is important for the growth of the economy… our stock exchange and… our companies; so, sustainability is what we looked at”.

She added, however, that the move was also in response to the urging of members of the diaspora whom, she said, indicated a keen interest in engaging in social investments locally.

Dr. Street Forrest said consequent on the healthy state of the stock market, which, she noted, has flourished over the last seven years and was ranked number one globally in 2015 and 2018, and the local investment environment, “we thought it best to mirror what we do best for the social sector”.

“So, we know that the diasporeans can really assist with this and… I’m appealing for that. It is important that we move towards a concentrated effort on uplifting the social sector… because it is good for business,” she added.

The JSSE was established to facilitate the mobilisation and channelling of resources into the social sector, and capacity building for the overall development of the ecosystem underpinning the social economy.

The Jamaica 60 Diaspora Conference was hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in downtown Kingston from June 14 to 16 under the theme: ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’.

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