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Business Leader Awards to focus on corporate philanthropy

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter

Thursday, October 22, 2015

THE Jamaica Observer Business Leader Awards will recognise corporate entities for its philanthropic contributions towards the development of the country.

Known as one of the premier programmes for recognising excellence in the industry and entrepreneurship in Jamaica, the Business Leader Awards is set to take place on December 4, 2016, under the theme 'Business Leaders Corporate Philanthropy'.

Speaking at the launch of the event on Wednesday, event chair Moses Jackson told the audience that a total of 18 companies are currently under review for the prestigious award. That number will be further reduced to 10, after which readers will begin to learn more about the nominated companies through feature publications in the Jamaica Observer next week.

"This year there will be a slight variation in the award; we will be looking at how companies spend their money instead of how they make it," Jackson stated.

"In doing so, we hope to achieve two basic objectives: we want to help lift public consciousness and public conscience about corporate philanthropy, and we also want the Business Leader Awards to promote corporate philantrophy as a legitimate dimension of entrepreneurship and not just giving back," he said.

He added that while the awards will feature companies of all sizes, precise mechanics are still being put in place to get micro and small companies in the mix. Ultimately, the Business Leader Awards will focus on companies that have strong formal structures from which they contribute to society.

"An initiative like Sigma Run will get a good review because of the impact it has had on Jamaica and the exemplary demonstration it has made for corporate giving," he stated.

Chairman of the Jamaica Observer Limited, Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, in lauding Jackson for consistently keeping the awards programme exciting and relevant, stated that the concept of philanthropy within corporate entities could not have come at a better time.

Stewart added that over the last 19 years of staging the Business Leader Awards, it has grown into the calendar event of the year for entrepreneurs.

"When Sandals just started, we had to scrap a little money here and there to try and help, because every school, hospital, police station, and so on needed assistance. Then up comes Adam who started the Sandals Foundation, and it's amazing how our guests continue to give to that Foundation."

The Business Leader Awards has nominated more than 100 individuals and businesses since its inception in 1996. Last year, the Jamaica Observer recognised eight entrepreneurs whose firms were listed on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, from which the husband and wife team of Stafford and Marilyn Burrowes, founders of Dolphin Cove Limited, were crowned winners of the 2013 Business Leader Awards.

Business Leader 2008 nominee and CEO of Manpower Maintenance and Services Limited, Audrey Hinchcliffe, during the launch lauded the Jamaica Observer for the initiative while noting that the programme has greatly assisted in the islandwide recognition of the company.

Sponsors for this year's event include the Bank of Nova Scotia, Digicel Jamaica, J Wray and Nephew and the Jamaica Yellow Pages. Director of corporate social responsibility and executive director for ScotiaFoundation, Scotiabank, Joylene Griffiths Irving, in her remarks challenged the Jamaica Observer to encourage the nominees and other corporate institutions to document the number of hours spent in philanthropy to increase the country's appreciation for the initiative as well as the value it creates.

"When our Government speaks of the budget and how much it takes to run the country, I know it takes much more than that," Griffiths Irving stated. "...At Scotiabank we did 6000 hours and other companies may have contributed more, and that to me is the true value of what it takes to run the country. Imagine if the companies decided to pull out; how would that impact the nation?" she questioned.