PIOJ to include social enterprises in surveys

Release Date: 
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

THE Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) for the first time is planning to include social enterprises in its surveys to determine the sector's contribution to Jamaica's GDP.

Over the last three years, the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation and the USAID has invested over $37.7 million in eight social enterprises across the island through the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative. SEBI is a business development and technical capacity-building platform focused on improving existing and potential enterprises that are committed to the development and sustainability of the social and economic well-being of communities, groups and individuals.

Speaking at SEBI's closing presentation last Thursday, general manager of JNBS Foundation, Saffrey Brown, told the audience that as the programme winds down, JNBS will take from it key learning that guides the next stage of social enterprises in Jamaica.

She added that Head of the University of the West Indies Office of Social Entrepreneurs, Kadamawe Knife and his team are now completing a review of the social enterprise landscape to establish the actual contribution the sector is making to Jamaica's GDP. The research will also look at an agreed definition for social enterprises, which will be used in the position paper on social enterprise that JNBS is currently working on with the PIOJ.

"The PIOJ has already started writing social enterprises into some of their policies, most recently into the draft National Poverty policy on the livelihood creation of infant security," Brown stated. "As a key advocate and proponent of social enterprises our position is that social enterprises become a major contribution to Jamaica's social economic and environmental development."

The organisations which benefited from the three-year initiative included the Mustard Seed Communities, Network for Women, Dress for Success, Grotto Juice Company, MultiCare Foundation, Ulster Spring Women's Group, The Source, and Superior Crafts and More.

Project manager for SEBI, Jennifer Sharrier stated that through the programme the eight social enterprises have been successfully guided by SEBI on a path to sustainability with the introduction of best practices for their operations, including the development and implementation of business plans.

She added that 50 per cent of the group is now making profit, while 720 community members have been impacted by personal development programmes. Another 130 community members have been employed through the intervention of the social enterprises, and more than 29 micro-enterprises have been formed.

Earlier this year, blind and visually impaired craft workers of Superior Crafts and More got the opportunity to display some of their furniture and handcrafted household items at the Social Enterprise Summit hosted by JNBS Foundation and USAID.

"We have been making a little money to support our families since the intervention of SEBI," Superior Crafts and More Manager Dyntie Davis previously told the Jamaica Observer, adding that the initiative has also significantly motivated special needs individuals who are often overlooked.

So far, Superior Crafts and More has supplied the Altamont Court Hotel with cosmetics baskets. The company has also crafted items for Sandals Resorts International and Strawberry Hill over the years.

Also speaking at the function, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Folkes-Abrahams lauded the JNBS Foundation and USAID for the execution of the initiative.

"This is not the end of SEBI; it's actually just an accounting of what has happened so far. I want to see this on television...all the people who have stood up here and told us of the great accomplishments, the work that you have done when you started and how far you have gotten," she told the audience.

"I am impressed and I tell you something, I am humbled. So many times, projects are started and you can't see what has happened, where the money has gone and what is the progress. But with this project I can see tangible results and it is something that I think is a model for the entire Jamaica to follow."

-- Karena Bennett



A social enterprise is a business that generates income from the sale of goods and services and uses the profits to solve issues such as: unemployment, homelessness and environmental degradation.


A Social Entrepreneur is an individual who establishes a for-profit enterpise with the primary objective of using the profit generated to alleviate a social, cultural or environmental challenge.