The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) hosted a virtual stakeholder sensitisation session for the Rural Economic Development Initiative, Phase II (REDI II) yesterday (September 23).
REDI II, which aims to improve both the Agricultural and Tourism sectors, has as its overall objective to enhance access to markets and to build climate-resilient approaches for targeted beneficiaries.
Building on the experience and results of the first phase of the project, this new phase of REDI will focus on strengthening value chains and developing tourism clusters, with an emphasis on the linkages between producers, service providers and buyers to improve economies for small agricultural and tourism enterprises.
On November 14, 2019, the World Bank Board gave its approval for a US$40-million loan to fund the Second Phase of the REDI project.
Subsequent to this approval, the Government of Jamaica and the World Bank signed the Project and Loan Agreements on March 3, 2020.
In his address to the session, Managing Director at JSIF, Omar Sweeney, pointed to the effects that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on both the tourism and agricultural sectors.
“These resources, as programmed by the Government of Jamaica, have been set aside and allowed to support the recovery and support the survival of critical micro, small and medium-sized enterprises at this critical moment,” he said.
Some of the areas that REDI II will improve are agriculture and tourism linkages; it will optimise rural agricultural production; direct integration of youth into the sectors; enhance agricultural productivity; enhance business mentorship and coaching; public infrastructure investments; enhance marketing of community tourism enterprises; increase efficiency through the introduction of technology and innovation; increase employment specifically targeting youth (REDI I created 1,300 jobs); and diversify tourism offerings allowing for expenditure and earnings within rural communities.
For his part, Agricultural Specialist at JSIF, Vincent Thompson, said the objective of REDI II is to enhance access to markets and to climate resilient approaches for targeted beneficiaries.
He noted that REDI II will provide grants for eligible projects in two components, Climate Resilient Agricultural and Community Tourism Sub-projects/Enterprises – Matching grants; and Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building of the Public Sector.
Mr. Thompson explained that the objectives of component one include: finance competitively selected business plans for implementation via matching grants; promote the development of agriculture/community tourism enterprises that are better integrated in productive partnerships/alliance; operate more competitively in selected value chains, with more reliable linkages with buyers and markets; and increase capacity to manage climate risks.
“Component one targets a total of 90 investment sub-projects … directly benefiting 200 rural enterprises with around 9,000 individual members, of which 40 per cent should be women and 30 per cent youth,” Mr. Thompson said.
He informed that component one sub-projects are funded through matching grants for the implementation of competitively selected business plans; and five to 60 per cent counterpart cash contribution, depending on the total sub-project cost.
Mr. Thompson said groups must be legally registered with the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies (DCFS) or Companies Office of Jamaica, market demand must be identified and clearly defined, must have technical financial feasibility established, and have environment and social sustainability.
To request funding for a project, applicants must complete the REDI II application form online or in hard copy and submit to JSIF.
Application forms may be obtained at the JSIF office at 11 Oxford Road (Entrance on Norwood Avenue), Kingston 5; JSIF website at www.jsif.org; Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) parish offices; Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) regional offices; and the Social Development Commission (SDC) parish offices.
The call for proposal will be published on September 26 and 27 in both the Jamaica Observer and the Jamaica Gleaner.