While JN’s Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) continues to make steady strides in developing and empowering communities, the task has been made more meaningful with the support of partners such as the US’ Peace Corp and its team of volunteers.
The Peace Corps is the volunteering arm of the United States’ government that sends Americans abroad to wrestle the most pressing needs of people around the world. With an overarching mission of promoting world peace and friendship worldwide, Peace Corps Volunteers provide support to grass-roots level initiatives such as SEBI through hands-on assistance, training and expertise in developing and empowering communities.
Peace Corps Volunteers Melissa Erkstrom, Jordon Waldschmidt, and Kara Welch have been in Jamaica partnering with the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) in mobilizing employment, investment and revenue within three communities.
Melissa Erkstrom considers her placement at the Network of Women For Food Security (NOW) Social Enterprise a dream come true, largely because NOW focuses on the production and marketing of mushrooms – an area she specializes in.
“I’m fresh out of college where I studied mushroom cultivation so I’m blessed to be working with an organization that matches my professional goals,” she noted in excitement, “moreover, I am working in a beautiful country with a group of women who makes my experience much more amazing,” she added.
Based in North Eastern Manchester, NOW uses eco-friendly agricultural practices to provide income-generating opportunities and training for underserved rural women living in the parish – a system Erkstrom describes as self-sustaining.
Her duties include tending to goats, vermicomposting – using worms to create a mixture of decomposing food – and conducting farm tours.
The Peace Corps worker noted that social enterprises are essential to every country especially Jamaica.
“NOW creates food security through the empowerment of women and serves as a vehicle to create positive economic and environmental changes; this is what developing countries such as Jamaica needs in abundance.