Four social enterprises, which are part of the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative’s (SEBI) Accelerator Programme, recently participated in a knowledge exchange during a Social Innovation Summit and study tour in the US.
The SEBI Accelerator is a business development programme that is tailored to support the growth of 15 existing social enterprises through leadership effectiveness training; introduction to growth strategies; mentorship and networking opportunities.
The accelerator is a key deliverable of this phase of the project and is supported by JN Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The four participants in the summit were: Seretse Small of Avant Academy of Music; Kristofferson Nunes of UCA Marketing, Laci-Ann Bartley of Bartley’s All In Wood; and Lashawndla Bailey of Inzzpire 365.
“I learned a lot during the visit, particularly that collaboration is important across industries and fields to ignite innovation; to focus on the user,” said Kristofferson Nunes, chief executive officer of UCA Marketing, a start-up social enterprise, which seeks job opportunities for tertiary students, while simultaneously offering corporate brands access to a fluid labour force and millennial consumers.
For Seretse Small, chief executive officer of Avant Academy of Music, the exposure was excellent. “What was transformational was being able to meet diverse persons, from investors to not for profit innovators to social entrepreneurs; and to learn how they interacted with each other,” he stated.
“It was interesting to hear investors speak about their experience working with founders, the challenges of getting funding and creating enterprises which also have social impact,” he added.
Avant Academy of Music is a music school, which was established in 2013,to change the paradigm of music education in Jamaica.
The Social Innovation Summit is one of the most renowned summits, which support the development of business, as a force for doing good. It was held under the theme “Social Innovation,” and took place in the Silicon Valley, California.
Onyka Barrett Scott, acting general manager of the JN Foundation, outlined that the social entrepreneurs also participated in a study tour of the Silicon Valley as part of experience.
“This was a critical component of the knowledge exchange, as it allowed the participants to interact with other social change agents in the Silicon Valley eco-system, understand their business models, their entrepreneurial journey and methods of resourcing – all important ingredients for generating strong and successful businesses,” she posited.
She further added, “for us at the JN Foundation, enabling such an exchange is a part of our ongoing commitment to the development of the social enterprise space, and a demonstration of the use of businesses as a force for good and betterment of Jamaica.”
The social entrepreneurs visited: Impact Hub San Francisco, a member based organisation catering to the needs of the sector in San Francisco; BayCat, led by a successful Wall Street broker turned social innovator, who uses the creative arts to change the pejorative narrative that pigeonholes many minority communities, to an authentic one told through the voices of the community.
They also visited Benetech, a social enterprise that produces “software for good.”The business leverages technology to deliver information to persons in the blind, deaf and mentally challenged communities.
The Social Enterprise Boost Initiative, a project of the JN Foundation and the USAID is in its final phase. Through the Accelerator Programme, entrepreneurs are being targeted to further enhance their social businesses.

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