Wed | Dec 13, 2017

He never passes an opportunity to develop his skills

Published:Wednesday | November 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Julien Pringle

Julien Pringle is one of Jamaica's outstanding individuals, who never passes up a good opportunity to develop his skills and improve his craft. Julien is an administrator with local social enterprise The Source Savanna-la-Mar, one of five community resource facilities that provide access to business and social services. From August 28 to September 15, 2017 Julien participated in the US State Department's professional exchange - the International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP), where he explored the topic "Change Makers: The Impact of Social Entrepreneurs in the U.S".

In a recent interview with the U.S. Embassy's Public Affairs Section, Julien described his experience while on the programme. Here's how he answered to some of the questions put to him:

Q: How would you describe the programme? What was your experience?

A: The programme is an intense three weeks of professional augmentation sessions designed for mid-career professionals. Over the span of three weeks, we travelled to four cities to attend over 50 meetings with more than seventy professionals from both the private and the public sector. For me, the experience was quite surreal.

On a professional level it has been the single most beneficial programme I have ever been fortunate enough to be a part of. Within three weeks the size of my professional network increased tenfold. On a personal level I have also formed lasting friendships with my fellow alumni who are from 22 different countries around the globe.

Q: Did you learn new strategies that can be employed in the field of social entrepreneurship locally?

A: Through informal and formal discussions with my colleagues who were a part of this IVLP programme for change makers, we were able to identify several shared challenges we all face in our respective endeavours. We were able to share with each other practical, and sometimes novel and interesting ways of tackling these common issues like stakeholder engagement, measuring impact, or fund-raising.

The greatest take-away in my view has been a better understanding of the ecosystem that is required for social entrepreneurship and businesses with a social mission to play their role in making Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

... Government needs to provide greater incentives for social entrepreneurs

Q: How would you like to see social entrepreneurship evolve in Jamaica?

A: The social enterprise landscape in Jamaica has just recently been defined through the seminal work that was done by Dr K'Adwame K'nife for the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI). SEBI is a project which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Jamaica National Foundation to provide technical support and capacity building for several social enterprises around the island. As more and more attention and emphasis are being placed on corporate social responsibility and social enterprise, I would love to see where there is an even balance between traditional for-profit businesses and businesses that focus on meeting the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit). In my idealistic vision of the future every new business start-up will be able to solve some social ill or provide some benefit that ultimately solves a social problem and at the same time, is a profitable venture without damaging the environment.

 

Q: What can different stakeholders do to raise awareness/profile of social entrepreneurship among Jamaicans?

A: New and existing media can be used to engage a wider audience and educate them about social entrepreneurship. The Jamaican government needs to formulate a communication strategy using its various channels to inform the nation about the invaluable contribution that social enterprises are able to make to the development of our economy. The University of the West Indies, through the Mona School of Business already has an Office of Social Entrepreneurship.

Other tertiary level institutions need to follow suit and I would go as far as to say that it should also be taught at the secondary level.

The Government also needs to provide greater incentives or possibly tax breaks for social entrepreneurs. This will allow the innovators to be better able to develop, improve or market their goods or services which will ultimately be solving a social problem.

The IVLP facilitates short-term visits to the United States, for current and emerging leaders in a variety of fields. Participants experience the United States firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts.

For further information on this and other professional exchanges facilitated by the US Embassy in Kingston visit jm.usembassy.gov or email kingstonexchanges@state.gov