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Diaspora Conference features social enterprise opportunities – JN

Jamaica National Building Society | 2015-02-26 00:00:00

A critical element of the 6th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, to be held June 13–18, 2015, will be an array of business and social enterprise options, which members of the extended national community can access, says Leon Mitchell, Assistant General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).

Started in 2004 to involve the Diaspora more comprehensively in the economic, social, political and cultural life in Jamaica, Mr. Mitchell said Jamaica National supports this Conference’s, “sharpened focus on business and social enterprise options, which enhances the value of the Diaspora Movement.”

Noting that the Diaspora Conference was now effectively a part of the development programme for the Jamaican community, the Assistant General Manager stated that, “This practical developmental thrust has positive implications for improving economic outcomes and further projecting Brand Jamaica on a global scale.”

He pointed to the new Diaspora Mapping Project, which began last year, with the aim to determine the location, interest and skills of members of the Diaspora, so that those with special skills and experiences can be more easily located to fill jobs in Jamaica.

Another practical enhancement is the formalisation of the process of making charitable donations, which was carried out through the Jamaican Charities Act of 2013.

“These are two solid Diaspora Conference outcomes, which are enhancing the lives of Jamaicans,” the Assistant General Manager said, adding that, “The new thrust has also pushed Jamaica National in new directions.”

Saffrey Brown, General Manager of the JN Foundation, pointed out that the subsequent development of the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), which she had introduced at the 2013 Diaspora Conference, will be made available to participants at this year’s conference.

The three-year initiative, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), tackles the fall-off in donations and grant funding to non-governmental organizations and civic groups, by building profitable business enterprises in order to support their social missions.

The first SEBI Summit was held recently in Jamaica, hosting enterprises such as Alpha Boys School, New Horizon Skills Training Centre and Daughters of Indigo, while featuring speakers from Jamaica, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom, Ms. Brown said. “Currently, the United Kingdom has the leading social enterprise movement in the world, and there is much we are seeking to learn from them.”

Ms. Brown stated that the SEBI has positive implications for those in the Diaspora as it offers opportunities for donating skills and expertise; as well as, providing options for developing partnerships and market linkages.

Rose Miller, Grants Manager at the JN Foundation, said one such SEBI partnership opportunity is through the Diaspora Youth Connect project which provides guidance to young entrepreneurs on the island.

“This programme harnesses the talents of Diaspora volunteers who can offer mentorship and training for young entrepreneurs in challenged communities,” Mrs. Miller explained. “The aim is to help them to identify and form a business, develop business plans, as well as to promote their business.”

The Grants Manager noted that youth unemployment is a major problem in Jamaica; and, therefore, this programme, done in partnership with CUSO International, will provide skilled Diaspora members with the opportunity to address this challenge.

“Jamaica and the Diaspora need to collaborate closely to ensure that the overall needs of the community are fulfilled,” Mr. Mitchell stated.

“Jamaica National plays a pivotal role in its links with Jamaicans in the Diaspora, mounting events, such as the annual Outlook for the Future series, which starts in the United Kingdom in July this year. And, the Society is pleased to assist in fostering some of the new options being developed through the Diaspora Conference,” he maintained.


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