Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Jamaica's first social enterprise summit to be held this month

Published:Thursday | January 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) is to host the Social Enterprise Summit on January 26 and 27 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

In addition to Anthony Hylton, minister of industry, investment and commerce, who is set to open the event, the country's first social enterprise summit has attracted international experts from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States, as well as social enterprise thought leaders from Jamaica.

Social enterprises have emerged as the dynamic business model most able to provide sustainable solutions to some of Jamaica's social, economic and environmental challenges. They engage in business activities that generate revenue, which is reinvested to help them to achieve their social, cultural, and/or environmental goals. Examples of these goals include providing employment, skills training or education; improving infrastructure for schools or community centres; as well as providing services for the elderly, young or disabled.

Earl Jarrett, chairman of JN Foundation, said the summit will include Government of Jamaica officials as well as business leaders, and non-governmental groups operating in the social sector.

"The Social Enterprise Summit will be a meeting of minds, where we will really focus on the benefits of supporting social enterprise and the opportunities that exist for further partnerships. There will be theory, but we will have hands-on sessions that people will not want to miss. At the summit, Jamaicans will learn about the essential contributions that social enterprises are making towards the country's sustainable development, and potential investors will see some remarkable social enterprises providing high quality products and services."

The summit will give participants insight on global trends, a close look at a group of organisations applying the social enterprise business model, and the critical success factors in operating a social enterprise. To do this, SEBI will present the Social Enterprise Marketplace where participants can glean best practices from social enterprise pioneers across Jamaica.

Speakers, case studies

"We at JN Foundation strive to be innovative and to engage persons in ways that will have the greatest impact. We have had smaller events in the past, but this event will be even more special. We are giving Jamaicans access to exciting speakers and social enterprises case studies," said Saffrey Brown, general manager, JN Foundation.

She added: "Our keynote speaker, Peter Holbrook, founder and CEO of Social Enterprise UK, has contributed to significant advancements in the social enterprise sector in the UK; both at the policy and operational levels. People can also visit our marketplace and meet some of the social enterprise pioneers who are doing social good in Jamaica. We've spent the past year laying the foundation and now people will see social enterprises in action. From food and beverage and agriculture to the creative and service industries, persons will get to understand what social enterprises are doing and why they are doing it."

SEBI was established by the JN Foundation, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to create dynamic and empowering opportunities for Jamaica's existing and potential social enterprises.

USAID Mission Director Denise Herbol said Jamaica is well positioned for a thriving social enterprise sector.