JSIF gives boost to August Town business owners
Omar Sweeney, managing director, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, unveils a cheque which was presented to the August Town Enterprises. Looking on is Member of Parliament for St Andrew Eastern Fayval Williams. (Photo Garfield Robinson)

FINANCIAL help was extended to 44 microenterprises in August Town, St Andrew last Thursday through the second phase of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF’s) Integrated Community Development Project which even the police are excited about.

A total of $5.85 million was provided by JSIF in this the second phase of the project. During the first phase of the programme, which was launched in 2020, approximately $3 million was split among 24 entrepreneurs from the August Town community. Since then, only one individual has gone out of business and the remaining 23 have been experiencing success.

Due to high levels of crime, August Town was declared a zone of special operations which would set the tone for well-needed social intervention programmes.

Police Corporal Petrica Taylor, who is assigned to Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said programmes like these make it easier for the young people to be monitored.

“With this development and movement with JSIF and other community groups onboard, it helps to keep down crime and to monitor the youth and ensuring we have a decline in crime rather than a spike. Partnering with different stakeholders, it is an opportunity and a delight to see different stakeholders and different groups partnering and empowering a community such as August Town. It goes beyond just security. This ensures that the people and community thrive and ensures that business people in the district feel empowered.”

Stephaney Jackson (left), a beneficiary of the August Town Enterprise Development Grant, is congratulated by Constable Natasan Grant and Corporal Petrica Taylor (right) from the Community Safety and Security Branch. Photo Garfield Robinson

According to Mona Sue Ho, a senior manager at JSIF, she is proud to be working again with the people of August Town. She shared that close to 180 applications were received from people seeking grants under the second phase of the project.

“I remember coming to August Town and walking through the streets trying to help the team to verify who were the people and what I saw was a group of people who were trying despite the pandemic. Even before we launched the grant, people were asking about grants. In cycle one we got 124 applications but only had funding for 24 grants. We had a full host of enterprises all of which were over one year in operation. We did not randomly select an enterprise. There were certain criteria. We recognised that most of them would need business development support. We had to also look at the psychosocial support.”

Stephaney Jackson (2nd right) shows off her work to Fayval Williams, member of Parliament for St Andrew Eastern; Omar Sweeney, managing director, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF); and Mona Sue Ho (right), senior manager, JSIF.<strong id="strong-3">Garfield Robinson</strong>

“In cycle two, we got 178 applications and we were able to disburse 44 grants. The total now that we had over two years was over 300 applicants, 68 people benefitted from a total of $8.85 million. For cycle two we included a third component which was community social responsibility. We want to have ongoing development and mentorship with the University of Technology, Jamaica enterprise department and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation. When you find someone who won a grant in 2020 and you find they are still in possession of the items and they are still in business, you feel quite good. I am very, very proud to be here in August Town again.”

Stephaney Jackson, a beneficiary of the first phase of the project, said a big thank you to JSIF for giving her concrete moulding business a boost.

“I am grateful because I was so much behind and since they came on board, business pick up and things a gwaan good so mi affi shout out to JSIF. The programme has done a lot for me because nobody recognised me and from JSIF came on board, mi things get highlighted and mi start get more customers so I give thanks. I design concrete moulding, I make columns, lions heads, flower pots, tables and chairs and anything to pretty up your yard, verandah and house too.”

Jason Cross

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