Edmond Campbell, Gleaner Reporter
Today, we continue to profile companies that have been nominated for the prestigious 2012 Gleaner Honour Award. Scotiabank Jamaica has been nominated in the category education.
SCOTIABANK JAMAICA Limited, with a network of 35 branches across the country, last year, raked in profits amounting to $10.5 billion, making the financial entity one of the island's leading corporate giants.
While Scotiabank's primary objective, like any other financial entity, is to deliver quality service and make a profit for stakeholders, the shrewd movers and shakers of the illustrious Scotia Group know the importance of touching the lives of ordinary Jamaicans, and that's where their corporate social responsibility comes in.
Dating back to the 19th century, the Bank of Nova Scotia first planted its roots in Kingston with a small banking office in 1889, which has since multiplied into an islandwide network, providing state-of-the-art retail and commercial banking services and a staff complement numbering more than 2,000.
With 123 years under its belt as a key player in the financial sector, the bank guards its reputation as a strong, stable and reliable participant in Jamaica's continuing growth and development.
The powerful financial group sees its support in the field of education as one of the bank's ways of contributing to nation building.
Bruce Bowen, president and chief executive officer of Scotia Group Jamaica, says, globally, Scotiabank's philanthropic focus is on developing youth under the tag line, 'Bright Futures'.
"As a financial institution, we are only successful if the country is successful, which requires that we invest in the leaders of tomorrow. Investing in youth is our greatest opportunity to impact the future of Jamaica, and ensuring that our children receive a quality education is critical if they are to realise their potential," Bowen explains.
He says the 'Bright Futures' programme focuses on all aspects of education; from providing schools with computers, to scholarships for students from inner-city communities, to HIV/AIDS education, to the repair of schools following natural disasters.
Scotiabank scholarships awarded annually to students at both the primary and tertiary levels are geared towards rewarding excellence and also targeting those who are financially in need.
Most of the bank's philanthropic outreach is delivered through the Scotia Foundation which was established in 1996 with an endowment fund of $100 million. To date, the fund has more than tripled to J$350 million.
The foundation awards 15 scholarships annually for students with outstanding performances in the GSAT; scholarships for students and teachers at universities, provides computers for schools, assists in providing classroom space in schools, facilitates science research at the University of the West Indies and funds breakfast programmes in schools.
Joylene Griffiths-Irving, director, corporate social responsibility/executive director of Scotia Foundation, says the institution has, since 2000, awarded 10 scholarships annually to the top GSAT students in inner-city schools.
"The results are most encouraging and inspirational. Most of these schools were receiving scholarships for the first time and this had a positive impact on their registration and attendance for the next year. Most of the scholars were the first ones in their families to receive scholarships, and this inspired their siblings and communities. We have scholars who are now employees of Scotiabank," Griffiths-Irving points out.
Not only has the foundation extended its altruistic support to these students from low-income groups at the secondary level, but the institution also stays with them through university, providing financial assistance.
Nutritious meals go a far way in enhancing the learning process and Scotia Foundation has sponsored breakfast programmes in seven schools in inner-city Kingston, St Ann and Portland.
The foundation's executive director says the breakfast programmes have had a positive impact on school attendance, literacy rates, students' participation in extra-curricular activities, and improvement in overall nutrition for children in the designated schools.
Cecile Palmer, principal of the Holy Family Infant and Primary School, says the institution feeds more than 250 children under the breakfast feeding programme sponsored by Scotiabank.
She says, prior to the bank's intervention, the school struggled to deal with certain challenges which affected students who appeared lethargic and would sleep in class early in the mornings.
"We were trying a little thing on our own and Scotiabank came in and provided some assistance, which has helped and benefited our children, and you can see the marked improvement in their whole features," Palmer adds.
"We have seen significant improvement in their academic achievements and Scotiabank has even given recipients scholarships, based on their GSAT results," the principal points out.
"All kudos to Scotiabank. We really look forward to their continued support, because they have really been good to us and the community."
Five years ago, Scotiabank financed a study in entrepreneurship and development at the University of Technology (UTech) which has, to date, reaped resounding success.
In 2008, the university named international trade expert Dr Rosalea Hamilton as professor in entrepreneurship and development at the institution, under a chair funded by Scotiabank Jamaica. Dr Hamilton's mandate was to study and support the growth of micro, small and medium-size (MSMEs) businesses in Jamaica.
Today, Prof Hamilton is describing Scotiabank's intervention as visionary, noting that the move by the financial heavyweight had "contributed significantly to facilitating entrepreneurial development among micro, small and medium enterprises in Jamaica."
According to Dr Hamilton, UTech and the education sector have benefited from the Scotiabank chair in entrepreneurship and development in a number of ways.
The research and extensive study in entrepreneurship and development have positioned UTech as a university that addresses real social and economic problems, and not only as an academic institution.
The Scotiabank chair has provided practical assistance to MSMEs through training, mentorship and other business-support services such as the establishment of a business clinic to assist businesses and providing hands-on training for students.
In addition, the Scotiabank chair has also facilitated the setting up of the Business Entrepreneurial Empowerment Programme, which is a training programme designed to assist MSMEs to achieve the minimum business competencies.
Support has also been extended to UTech's Club Billionaire, a student entrepreneurship club that provides hands-on training and experience in private enterprise.
Commenting on his achievements since taking the reins of the bank four years ago, the president and CEO says he has tried to build on the legacy of success that Scotiabank has earned over 123 years in Jamaica.
"We have invested a lot in terms of training and systems to improve customer experience, which has translated into market-share growth in all our business lines. We have increased collaboration between Scotiabank, Scotia Insurance and Scotia Investments, in order that as a group we can better assist our customers be financially better off," said Bowen.
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