Summit highlights benefits of social enterprises
Denise Herbol, mission director of the United States Agency for International Development in Jamaica, believes the input of social enterprises will be good for Jamaica.
"Social enterprises are making a positive impact on the growth of our communities and economies," she said. Social enterprises are classified as organisations whose sole purpose is to generate income to address Jamaica's social and environmental challenges. The profits made from their income-generated ventures are re-invested into their social purpose, rather than maximising profits for shareholders. Herbol said social enterprises worldwide had proven to be key elements in the economic development of nations. Data shows that social enterprises generated more than US$2 trillion in revenues in 2012, and the number is increasing by 15 per cent annually.
From a more humanitarian perspective, Herbol noted that the USAID also relied heavily on partnerships like the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) to carry out much-needed interventions in vulnerable communities. She suggested social enterprises were responsible for, among other things, the creation of jobs for marginalised people, and contributed to environmental sustainability. SEBI is a project of the Jamaica National (JN) Foundation and USAID.
Herbol was speaking at the launch of the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative Social Enterprise Summit on Monday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. The two-day summit, the first in the island, allowed social enterprises to display their goods and services to the public, with the public in turn getting to know more about the concept of social enterprise and the entities practising it. Items on sale included food, beverages, as well as wicker and corded furniture. In endorsing the summit, chairman of the JN Foundation, Earl Jarrett, said he hoped the participants would be able to create a Jamaican definition of social enterprise, while also recognising the size and scale of such enterprises and their contribution to the gross domestic product.
"Organisations that are described as social enterprises must be seen for their value," he said. Jarrett pleaded with the gathering not to think of social enterprises as the "latest fad", but suggested that they "must be encouraged to grow and to thrive".