Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Shaw lauds Ja’s social enterprise sector for national development

Published:Friday | November 13, 2020 | 12:18 AM
Audley Shaw, minister of industry, investment and commerce.
Audley Shaw, minister of industry, investment and commerce.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Audley Shaw, has commended Jamaica’s growing social-enterprise sector for its contribution to the country’s economic and social development.

The minister made his comments at a virtual stakeholder sensitisation session themed ‘A Road Map for Growing the Social Sector in Jamaica,’ put on by the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) and the IDB Lab, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, yesterday.

The social-enterprise sector as an element of the social economy and as a divergent business model, is a fairly new entrant into Jamaica’s commercial ecosystem, Shaw said.

“Though new, the model is even more critical today as public funds become more and more stretched in meeting the needs of all citizens,” he said.

“The Government of Jamaica is, therefore, thankful for our social enterprises - cooperatives, mutual societies, churches, associations, and foundations that pursue economic and social goals and promote community,” Shaw said.

While noting that the first formal recognition of the social-enterprise sector as a meaningful contributor to the Jamaican economy was marked by its inclusion in the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Policy (2018), crafted by the ministry, the minister said that the Government recognises that the social economy plays an important role in employment creation and contributes to sustainable societal development.

To date, through an extensive data-collection and mapping exercise carried out under the policy, Jamaica now has 126 formally registered social enterprises.

social enterprise legislation

The next big step towards creating the platform for the growth of this sector is the enactment of the social enterprise legislation, which is being actively pursued, the minister said.

He said that the legislation would not only govern the administration and functioning of social enterprises, but would also allow these enterprises to efficiently and effectively carry out their business activities as they seek to contribute to their communities more substantially.

The JSE and the IDB signed a technical cooperation agreement on December 5, 2019, with a budget of US$910K comprising funding of US$490K and $420K from the JSE and the IDB, respectively.

THREE-YEAR PROJECT

The funds are to be used for a three-year project aimed at “innovating social-sector financing,” JSE managing director Marlene Street-Forrest said.

The project aims to facilitate the effective mobilisation of resources to social-service organisations and social enterprises that serve the poor and vulnerable populations through the JSE’s integrated system and tools, she said.

Street-Forrest noted that “the readiness of especially our entities to receive capital is paramount to the success of this project and the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange”.

The sensitisation session also saw a presentation by Thalia Lyn, ambassador of the social-enterprise sector and head of the National Commercial Bank’s Foundation.

Shaw, while noting the acclaim of the Junior Stock Exchange, commended the JSE for its innovativeness in support of national growth and urged the JSE team to continue its quest for a micro stock exchange.