In an effort to place more Jamaicans at the centre of the nation’s development agenda, the government is giving focused attention to the island’s social enterprise (SE) sector and has launched an Investment Climate Reform (ICR) Facility (known as the Business Environment Reform For Social Enterprise Sector Intervention in Jamaica project) to boost its operation.
The ICR Facility intervention in Jamaica, which is aimed at improving the business and investment environment of Social Enterprises, was launched on Wednesday, (January 27) by State Minister in the Ministry of Industry Investments and Commerce (MIIC), Dr. Hon. Norman Dunn and Mr. Ricard Bardia-Divins, the Head of Cooperation at Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica during the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE’s) Regional Investments & Capital Markets Conference 2021. The conference was held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel and carried virtually from January 26 – 28.
In endorsing the ICR Facility intervention in Jamaica, the State Minister pointed out that, over the years, social enterprises have been meeting the needs of many Jamaicans from the proceeds of their business ventures, adding that, “they represent the conscience, soul and heart of our productive economy”.
Social enterprises are businesses that operate solely for the purpose of investing their profits into social programmes such as educational initiatives, assisting the disabled, abused women and unattached youth or improving the environment. There are currently more than 160 such entities operating in Jamaica.
According to the State Minister, “Developing social enterprises is one way of tackling Jamaica’s crime monster as these entities have engaged the youth in inner-city and rural communities in productive activities and have sought to address several social issues facing their communities”.
Many of these enterprises however, are informal in their operation and lacking in the necessary business acumen for sustainability and profitability. As such, Dr. Dunn said, “There is an urgent need for us to institute capacity building programmes, including training in financial and business management among SE operators. I am therefore heartened by the fact that participants will benefit from capacity-building workshops through the ICR Facility intervention in Jamaica”.
The Minister explained that Social Enterprises were, for the first time, being given focused attention in the government’s economic agenda and as such, were highlighted separately in the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy 2018. He noted that prior to the policy, social enterprises were classified under the general heading of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
“This move (to treat SEs as a distinct sector) is a clear signal that the sector has the support of government and that they (social enterprises) are critical partners in our country’s national development”, Dr. Dunn said.
In his address, Mr. Ricard Bardia-Divins said the European Union was pleased to support efforts to strengthen the business environment and investment climate by focusing on social enterprises, which play such a key role in creating opportunities, especially for people in poor and marginalized communities.
"The technical assistance being provided under the facility will help to build the capacity of social enterprises to generate more jobs, contribute to economic growth and in so doing, support the government to realize its development goals", Mr Bardia-Divins said.
The ICR Facility intervention in Jamaica will, in addition to providing capacity-building workshops, develop a marketing plan for SE operators and will guide the establishment of a legal framework for the sector. The intervention is being implemented over 90 non-consecutive days, beginning in February and ending in August, 2021. The initiative is expected to reform the sector and to infuse a new level of sophistication in the operation of SEs so they may attract additional funding from donors and investors, grow their businesses and be in a better position to contribute to social programmes. Currently, the JSE, through its corporate social responsibility arm, the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE), is developing a platform which will allow SEs to engage in equity trading in order to fund their businesses. It is expected that the ICR Facility will help to prepare SEs to list on the JSSE.
This ICR Facility business environment reform for social enterprise sector intervention is being led by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
The ICR Facility is co-funded by the European Union (EU), the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the British Council.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is described as Jamaica's "Business Ministry." It's mandate is to lead the development of policies that will create growth and jobs, while achieving social inclusion and consumer protection. The Ministry, working its stakeholders is primarily responsible for business policy development, monitoring and evaluation, while giving direction and oversight to a cluster of implementing departments and agencies.
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