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Jamaica Closer to Social Enterprise Legislation arising from the EU Investment Climate Reform (ICR) Facility

Opportunities Abound With Reform of the Social Enterprise Sector – Industry Investment and Commerce Minister
The MSME unit of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is currently finalising the draft Legal Status Act to prepare it for the legislative process.
At the launch of the draft act in July, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon Audley Shaw said that social enterprises are extremely important in more MSMEs being engaged in agriculture, industry, services and the entertainment sector. They have proven to be very effective in addressing unemployment, poverty, crime, prostitution and violence in many inner cities and rural communities. It is important to sustainable social transformation and its role in addressing the challenges faced by excluded or disadvantaged groups. The draft act was developed under the Investment Climate Reform Facility of the European Union.

 

Social Enterprises are playing a crucial role in Jamaica – PIOJ Director General
At the launch of the draft Legal Status Act in July, Director General of the Planning Institution of Jamaica noted that research has shown that most social enterprises in Jamaica are micro enterprises created to improve a particular community by solving issues such as unemployment, providing training, addressing financial inclusion and supporting children and vulnerable people. The draft Legal Status Act was advanced under the EU Investment Climate Reform (ICR) facility project team in Ghana; Social Enterprise UK and the British Council.

 

Kingston, December 6, 2021

Following the July 15 close-out of the European Union (EU) Investment Climate Reform Facility, Jamaica’s social enterprise sector is gearing up for greater acceptance as the Draft Legal Status Act, with an accompanying Market Strategy and Resource Mobilisation Plan, is now being prepared for submission to Cabinet by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC). The draft was prepared with coordination support from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

The Act will place the definition and qualifying criteria of a social enterprise in law and formalise the sector to make it more attractive to investment and credit, support the improvement of national standards bodies, and enable social enterprises to cohesively petition for government incentives. Currently, in order to conduct business, social enterprises such as co-operatives, associations, foundations and non-profit organizations have to register as limited liability companies, charities or benevolent societies.

The Draft Legal Status Act defines a social enterprise as: An entity with a defined social mission set out in its constitution to contribute to solving social, economic, environmental or cultural problems at the community, national or international levels through ethical business practices, with a significant portion of profits being reinvested in the social mission. The MIIC Micro Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (MSME) policy already recognises social enterprises, and when the Act is passed, Jamaica will be the first Caribbean nation to have such legislation.

Speaking at the July 15 launch of the draft, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw said of the development, “The government of Jamaica recognizes that social enterprises can uplift and place more Jamaicans at the centre of the nation’s development agenda. They are aligned to Jamaica’s Vision 2030 National Development Plan, particularly in relation to strategies aimed at poverty reduction, environmental protection and employment of the marginalized. We also recognize that social enterprises are critical supporting pillars in Jamaica’s commitment to the attainment of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

In her remarks, Head of European Delegation to Jamaica, Marianne Van Steen stated, “I am proud to see that this is the first ICR Facility intervention to be completed in the Caribbean region, with regional support towards the improvement of credit infrastructure, the insolvency framework as well as support for national standards bodies, in the context of the pandemic, currently still ongoing. . . . We are very positive on the impact that this initiative will have and we see it as one more positive step from this Government towards improving the business environment and the investment climate for social enterprises in Jamaica. Promoting a social economy is a key policy focus for the European Commission. We are currently working on a social economy action plan for the European Union and are happy to see that this topic is also high on the agenda for Jamaica.”

Director General of the PIOJ, Dr Wayne Henry, in his address stated that “Jamaica faces several social, environmental and cultural issues inimical to its development. Social enterprises are playing a crucial role in highlighting these issues and devising solutions, through positive contribution to aggregate demand, social inclusion and economic gains.” He also added that “the accomplishments gained and activities undertaken within the social enterprise sector align with and will contribute to accomplishing the Goals of Vision 2030 Jamaica and its intended outcomes.”

The Investment Climate Reform (ICR) Facility was co-funded in 2020 by the Delegation of the European Union (EU) and the Organization of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) under the 11th European Development Fund. The project was approved under the ICR’s Business Environment Reform for the Social Enterprise (SE) Sector in Jamaica.

According to a 2015 UWI research paper, in 2014, social enterprises contributed J$136 million to GDP. Most social enterprises are operated from volunteer labour and nearly 40.0 per cent had been in operation for 10 years or more.

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