One of the most innovative elements of the upcoming SEBI Summit 2017 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on January 30 and 31, will be the Jamaica Social Exchange.
Powered by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the exchange is a market place to feature a wide range of products and services available locally from 16 participating social enterprises and social entrepreneurs.
The Jamaica National (JN) Foundation, JN Small Business Limited and the DBJ will also have a presence in the space.
The event is being hosted by the JN Foundation’s Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) in collaboration with USAID.
The products on offer will range from eco-tourism tours; mobility aids and services; home décor and personal accessories made from wood cast-offs and specialty coffees.
The Jamaica Social Exchange will be open to both summit attendees and the wider public.
 “The name was selected in keeping with the stock exchange theme, which is symbolic of a business being at a significant place in its growth cycle and trajectory.  This is the kind of outcome we project for the social sector,” said Saffrey Brown, General Manager of JN Foundation.
 She noted that the Jamaica Social Exchange would facilitate the sale of goods and services, while providing networking opportunities.
 “We look forward to introducing this concept to the Jamaican public, as we continue to create opportunities for learning about the social enterprise sector and the important role which it will continue to play in providing innovative programmes that assist communities,” Ms.  Brown continued.
 Dianna DaCosta, Manager of Research and Business Analytics at the DBJ said she was pleased to be partnering with SEBI to power the Jamaica Social Exchange.
 “Given the mission of the Development Bank of Jamaica to facilitate economic growth and development across all sectors, we felt it was the right thing to get involved with the SEBI Summit, especially as we are seeking to create a financial product that will be inclusive of the social enterprise sector. Participating in the summit will, therefore, allow us the opportunity to get acquainted with those persons in the network and better understand their needs, so that we can work with them to grow their businesses,” she said.
One of the 16 social enterprises expected to showcase its services at the SEBI Summit is the Bunkers Hill Cultural Xperience & River Tour, in Trelawny.
According to Clover Gordon, CEO: “We are excited to be a part of the SEBI Summit which will give major exposure to our small community.  We thank SEBI for its continued assistance, especially through the promotion of our attraction which seeks to expose the culture of Jamaica to locals and visitors to the island.  We offer a river tour and a hiking trail, where persons can sample our traditional foods and view the markings left by the Tainos,” she said.
Another social enterprise which will be on show is PSDO Mobility Centre on Hagley Park Road, Kingston.  Founder of the Centre, Bridgette Johnson, said she looked forward to grasping every chance to make business connections at the Summit.
“We hope to get well needed publicity as we plan to move into the manufacturing of wheel chairs, walkers and crutches.  Currently we have 20 well trained persons in these services, as well as the installation and retrofitting of buildings to include ramps and we look forward to growing this area,” said Johnson.
Deaf Can! Coffee was founded on the belief that Deaf persons are equal to those who can hear. 
“The world needs to recognise that fact. We are particularly pleased to be participating in the SEBI Summit especially as one of our head baristas, Fabian Jackson, will be a speaker at the Official Opening Ceremony.  This is an incredible achievement, as the young man has great ability and will be able to show that to hundreds of persons at the event.  In fact, his participation will lift the profile of the Deaf so that everyone will be able to see that the Deaf can do anything. In addition, the networking opportunities will be great, as we will be able to meet local and international persons and widen our network base”, said co-founder Blake Widmer.
For Lacey-Ann Bartley, Managing Director of Bartley’s All in Wood, social enterprises are at a disadvantage, compared to strictly for profit operations.
“So, this Summit will allow us to not have to compete for visibility with the strictly for profit groups.  We can tell our story and sell our products to benefit not only ourselves, but persons in our community and bring attention to the various causes we support, including vulnerable persons from rural Jamaica and those with disabilities.  In fact, at Bartley’s All In Wood we employ persons who are hearing impaired and at-risk youth,” she said.
Other sponsors of the Jamaica Social Exchange include Digicel Foundation and IADB.  In addition the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel – venue for the two-day Summit – will contribute to the pre-event promotion, with messages placed on tables in the Café 24/7 in the days leading up, while café workers will wear ‘Buy Social’ buttons.
The British Council is also a sponsor of the SEBI Summit.

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