Sample, shop and share in the Social Enterprise Marketplace
Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
The field of social enterprises has experienced significant growth and interest in Jamaica over recent years. Profits made from the incomes of social enterprises are reinvested into their social projects rather than maximising profits for shareholders.
Spurred by the impact that they have had on the countries social, economic and environmental development, the inaugural Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) Summit, held recently at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, gave persons the opportunity to support the social enterprise movement in a tangible way.
Organisations displayed and sold their goods and services to the public, which also got the opportunity to learn about the organisations' sole purpose, which is giving back to make a difference in people's lives.
Among the exhibitors was New Horizon Skills Training Centre, an arm of the New Horizon Christian Outreach Ministries, a non-profit organisation operating in the Wynter's Pen community in St Catherine.
In its efforts to reach out to troubled young men in the tough Spanish Town community, the institution has been training students in welding, fabrication, electrical installation, plumbing, and literacy and numeracy skills since it was launched in February 2007.
"We are equipping these young people in body, mind and spirit. The skills-training division, through collaboration with the national training agency, HEART Trust/NTA, offers courses in welding and electrical installation to participants from areas such as Linstead, Central Village, Old Harbour and Spanish Town," said Sophia Barnett, administrator.
"These level-one, six-month courses are complemented with subjects such as mathematics, English language, information technology, entrepreneurial skills and, certainly, spiritual upliftment," Barnett said.
Another exhibitor, Dress for Success Jamaica, provides business attire and career development services to help disadvantaged women get employed and stay employed. An affiliate of Dress for Success Worldwide, this organisation has helped many of these women to defy the odds and put them on a path to economic independence.
According to Canace Morgan, administrator, professional women donate work suits and accessories to the organisation that, in turn, gives them to economically disadvantaged women.
Other exhibitors included Daughters of Indigo, Grotto Community Development Centre, MultiCare Foundation, Mustard Seed Communities, Network of Women for Food Security, The Source, Superior Crafts and More, the Ulster Spring Women's Group, Pure Natural Mystic and the Abilities Foundation.
Jennifer Sharrier, project manager at the Jamaica National Building Society Foundation, with responsibility for SEBI said, "These organisations are making attempts to reduce their reliance on donations and funding, recognising that funding is declining and that, in order to survive, they need to create profit-making ventures that can allow them to become self-sufficient and financially sustainable."
SEBI is a JN Foundation project, implemented in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development, and was developed to foster the growth of Jamaica's social enterprise sector.