Mon | Mar 18, 2019

Development, funding opportunities for social enterprises improving - Lyew-Ayee

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2018 | 2:58 PM
JN Foundation chairman Parris Lyew-Ayee

The demand for services offered by social enterprises in Jamaica is growing and so too are the opportunities for funding and development, according to chairman of JN Foundation Parris Lyew-Ayee.

Lyew-Ayee gave an overview of the prospects for social enterprises in Jamaica as he launched a new entity to boost their development.

Named Social Enterprise Jamaica (SEJ), the new social incubator replaces the JN Foundation's Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), a project that was co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“With the ending of SEBI, along with the introduction of increased funding opportunities, financial instruments, and business services; as well as, the ever growing demand for social enterprises, there is a new gap in the market, and new windows are opening,” Lyew-Ayee said at the launch event on Wednesday.

“Therefore, today, we at the JN Foundation are pleased to announce that there will be a new social enterprise supporting the sector to be known as, Social Enterprise Jamaica, SEJA. This enterprise will be an independent multi-sectoral social one, which will seek to create an environment to facilitate the growth of the social enterprise sector in Jamaica,” he explained.  

In outlining the role of SEJ, Lyew-Ayee said: “Social Enterprise Jamaica will focus on further developing the social enterprise ecosystem in Jamaica; and seek to innovate and incubate, to create scalable impactful businesses in the society.”

Social enterprises generated about $186 million in revenues and created employment for some 500 persons over the last six years, according to SEBI project manager Opal Whyte.

She said this was evidence that social enterprises could contribute meaningfully to economic development.

“The social enterprises introduced innovative products to the market; and some experienced phenomenal growth during a relatively short period," Whyte pointed out. "The impact of SEBI also reached more than 100 additional social organisations, whose members participated in the open network activities,” she added.

In the meantime, at least two social enterprises have welcomed the announcement of SEJ.

Randy McClaren, managing director of Bresheh, said he hoped that SEJ will play an advocacy role for social enterprises.

“I hope that it will take on as many social enterprises, as possible, to assist to pave the way for us as a sector, to really expand and impact many persons, the planet; and, obviously, profitability,” he said.

Tishauna Mullings, founder of Nexx Stepp Educational Services, said she would like see SEJ position social enterprises linked to social capital; and to GDP, to make an impact in our country, so that everyone can appreciate what social enterprise means.

Entities interested in becoming a member of the SEJ are invited to get in touch with the JN Foundation via email at: info@socialenterpriseja.com; or by telephone at: 876 926-1344, Ext. 5158

We want to hear from you! Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169, or email us at editors@gleanerjm.com or onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com.