Mon | Apr 22, 2019

JSSE pioneer 5 targeting $90m in project funding

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2019 | 12:11 AM
Marlene Street Forrest, managing director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

Five non-profits aiming to raise a combined $90 million as a precursor to listing their projects on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange, the JSSE, have amassed 15 per cent of the target on the first day of the launch of the pledging website on Monday.

Members of the public can pledge funds to any of these projects over the next three months via www.jsse.jamstockex.com, after which the operations that are fully funded will list on the social exchange.

Candidates for the social exchange may raise between $5 million and $25 million for projects. Those needing more time to hit their fundraising target will get an extension, said Managing Director of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, JSE, Marlene Street Forrest.

The entities that list will be required to produce financial reports on their operations, as well as updates on projects, Street Forrest told the Financial Gleaner.

The JSSE had its formal launch at the JSE Capital Markets Conference in January, with Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealing the five prospective listings as Agency for Inner-city Renewal (AIR), Alpha School of Music, Choose Life International, Deafcan Coffee and Praise Jamaica.

“We already launched the JSSE in January, but today, we launched the website for accepting pledges,” said Street Forrest on Monday after the bell-ringing ceremony to mark the occasion.

Nearly one dozen other projects are vying to get a chance to raise funds and list, she added.

“We want to space out the applications. There is a rolling timeline. Entities can apply at any time, but consideration for listing will be done in February, July and October,” she said.

Street Forrest sees the JSSE as a potential feeder for the Micro Stock Exchange, which is under consideration for the listing of MSMEs, and which, in turn, could feed the Junior Stock Exchange, JSE, and then the JSE Main Market, as the companies mature.

“Each exchange can lead and pave the way for the other,” she said.

On the initial day of the pledge website, AIR raised over $5.3 million for its $23.1-million music-studio project dubbed JaMIN. The project aims to set up a music studio for inner-city youth equipped with modern software and equipment.

Alpha raised $1.9 million of $19 million for a project dubbed 101. It seeks to train 30 inner-city youth as musicians with employable skills for bands.

Choose Life raised $2.5 million for its $25-million project, dubbed the Shalom Project for Personal and Community Transformation. The project aims to train 280 ‘Choose Life ambassadors’ over two years, who, in turn, will each train five-10 persons. This, in ­theory, would create a cadre of individuals to guide others in making non-violent, “healthy choices”.

Deafcan raised $800,000 for its $7.5-­million project, which focuses on financing its coffee farm. It is the first of a series of steps to widen the coffee company’s reach to assist 30 deaf youths directly.

Praise Jamaica raised $1.6 million for its $15.5-million social-intervention project, Spring Praise Jamaica, which aims to create a concert and mobile app to promote an environment free of alcohol, nudity and life threatening behaviours.

PUBLIC PLEDGES

Members of the public who pledge to these projects won’t be able to buy and sell the amount they pledge upon listing. Rather, the funds will be treated as donations.

However, in the second stage of the JSSE’s implementation, investors will be allowed to buy and sell shares in the projects. That phase however, requires a regulatory framework, including incentives for non-profits to list.

That aspect of the project is being handled by a group called the Social Enterprise Working Committee, which includes stakeholders from the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the Ministry of Industry.

The work is in progress, but: “I cannot give you a timeline when they will be finished,” Street Forrest said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com