The JN Foundation has announced the launch of a new organisation, Social Enterprise Jamaica, which will facilitate the growth of the social enterprise sector in the country.
Parris Lyew-Ayee, chairman of the JN Foundation, made the announcement about the new enterprise at the close-out ceremony of the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), a project of the JN Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston, on Wednesday, December 12.
“With the ending of SEBI, along with the introduction of increased funding opportunities, financial instruments, and business services; as well as, the ever growing demand for social enterprises, there is a new gap in the market, and new windows are opening,” he pointed out.
“Therefore, today, we at the JN Foundation are pleased to announce that there will be a new social enterprise supporting the sector to be known as, Social Enterprise Jamaica, SEJA. This enterprise will be an independent multi-sectorial social one, which will seek to create an environment to facilitate the growth of the social enterprise sector in Jamaica,” he explained.
Mr Lyew-Ayee said that SEJA will be a member-owned enterprise, designed to be economically sustainable without relying on government, corporate or philanthropic assistance for its survival.
The JN Foundation Chairman further disclosed that consultations have already started with key stakeholders about SEJA. He said the enterprise will offer services such as: serving as a knowledge hub; establishment of the Buy Social Trade Mark; and, a social enterprise innovation hub.
He further explained that the innovation hub will be a state-of-the art facility, providing a space to host: events, training sessions, meetings, and co-working and incubation.
“Social Enterprise Jamaica will focus on further developing the social enterprise ecosystem in Jamaica; and seek to innovate and incubate, to create scalable impactful businesses in the society,” he explained.
Entities which are interested in becoming a member of Social Enterprise of Jamaica are invited to get in touch with the Foundation via email at: [email protected]; or, by telephone, at: 876 926-1344, Ext. 5158
Several social enterprises have welcomed the announcement of SEJA.
Randy McClaren, managing director of Bresheh, said he hoped that SEJA will play an advocacy role for social enterprises. “I hope that it will take on as many social enterprises, as possible, to assist to pave the way for us as a sector, to really expand and impact many persons, the planet; and, obviously, profitability,” he said.
Tishauna Mullings, founder of Nexx Stepp Educational Services, said she would like see SEJA position social enterprises linked to social capital; and to GDP, to make an impact in our country, so that everyone can appreciate what social enterprise means.
Turning to the successes achieved by SEBI during the past six years, Opal Whyte, project manager of SEBI, stated that, the project proved that social enterprises can be viable businesses. Through the project, they were able to generate more than J$186 million in revenues and employed 500 persons, on a part time and full time basis.
“The social enterprises introduced innovative products to the market; and some experienced phenomenal growth during a relatively short period. The impact of SEBI also reached more than 100 additional social organisations, whose members participated in the open network activities,” she affirmed.
Dionne Rose| Communication Officer | JN Group Corporate Communications