KINGSTON, Jamaica – Delegates attending the recently concluded Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference were impressed by the work of three social enterprises being nurtured by the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), a project of the JN Foundation and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Jamaican delegates who reside in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada were taken on a social tour of the Deaf Can! Coffee; 360 Recycle Manufacturing and Alpha Wear JAin Kingston.
The delegates toured the Deaf Can! Coffee facility at the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf located at 4 Cassia Park where they were treated to coffee, milk shake, fruit smoothie and pastries, all products of the Deaf Can! enterprise.
Meanwhile, 360 Recycle Manufacturing Limited gave them a glimpse in how they converted waste to wealth by using discarded plastic bottles, styrofoam, newspaper, and cardboard to create pieces of art, flower pots, playground equipment, garden sets and construction materials such as building blocks.
Alpha Wear JA, located on South Camp Road displayed their social enterprise offering –of screen printing and high quality embroidery services on textile and ceramics to the delight of the delegates.
“It is very inspiring,” said Renea Douglas, vice president of the Jamaican Canadian Association. “Having lived outside of Jamaica for many years, it is good to see them (social enterprises) doing something to create opportunities for themselves.”
Douglas was particularly impressed with the production of 360 Recycle Manufacturing and Deaf Can!
“It is an experience to witness this social enterprise using recycled materials and creating useful products as well as employment,” she said of the 35 persons employed by 360 Recycle Manufacturing from nearby communities on Rousseau Road.
“For Deaf Can!, we see the inclusiveness whereby these young people are given an opportunity to improve themselves,” she added.
For retired banker and teacher, Sonia Ferguson, the tour of the facilities was insightful. “I’m not a risk taker but to see people creating employment and utilizing resources that are here, I think there is hope for Jamaica,” she observed.
Ferguson also gave glowing tributes to 360 Recycle Manufacturing. “I have a passion for recycling and to see that this company turned it into a business, is amazing. I’m glad somebody is recycling and utilizing the garbage and making a business out of it,” she said.
Saffrey Brown, General Manager of JN Foundation said the tour was organized in order to showcase to the Jamaican Diaspora that positive things are happening in Jamaica.
“These social enterprises are bringing opportunities for employment, bringing opportunities for entrepreneurship and bringing opportunities for social innovators to define who they are and what they are capable of. Social enterprise is an avenue that is inclusive and allows them to do that,” she said.
Ms. Brown encouraged the delegates to support these social enterprises and said they could contribute to the development of these enterprises by taking up the opportunities offered by the JN Bank Diaspora Certificate of Deposit.
See also: JN Bank Issues Certificate of Deposit In Jamaican Diaspora
She explained that a percentage of the interest earned from the CD will be matched and re-invested into businesses being nurtured by the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative.