MONTEGO BAY, St James — Thirty micro-business operators in the Salt Spring community of this western Jamaica city are now looking towards brighter days after receiving development grants through the second phase of Jamaica Social Investment Fund's (JSIF) Integrated Community Development Project.
Speaking at the launch of the project on Friday, managing director of JSIF Omar Sweeney shared that a total of $5,850,000 is being invested in Salt Spring business operators as a way of building the community's economy.
“While we rebuild communities it is important for communities to have their own economies and it must be strong. [Residents] will leave their communities every day to go and work, but we want them to be able to bring the money back into the community and spend much of it in the community – that is what sustains the livelihood of the community,” Sweeney said in his address.
Noting that the small-scale operators who are benefiting from this project were carefully selected, Sweeney disclosed that this investment is “intended to help create sustainable employment and income generation in this community.
“We do these investments not as a handout – this is not a cash grant. Their businesses are assessed, we look at the viability of their businesses and we look at the thing that is missing that they would need to leverage the business,” the managing director said.
Additionally, Sweeney shared, as the Government of Jamaica focuses on the overall economic growth of the country, these 30 business operators will also benefit from business development support and customer service training.
Councillor Joshua Cummings (Jamaica Labour Party, Montego Bay Central Division), who has been assigned to represent the Salt Spring community, welcomed the project.
“We can safely say that transformation is taking place in this community,” said the councillor.
Pointing out that the investment by JSIF will benefit the greater good of Salt Spring, Cummings told beneficiaries to take good care of the equipment that they have received.
Clifton Ellis, a beneficiary, was thrilled to share his story of how JSIF has benefited his business – Sage Designz and Media.
“I fell in love with filming, but the only setback was that I didn't have a camera, so I began to pray,” he said.
Ellis's prayers were answered when JSIF gave him an opportunity to paint a mural in his community. He then applied to receive the grant.
“The only reason why I have a camera is because of this [mural]. The money I got from it was the money that bought the camera. I then needed a gimbal for my camera and JSIF started giving out grants again, so I said this was an opportunity to get one. As an entrepreneur you must seek opportunities, you can't sit down and expect certain things to come to you,” Ellis shared.
“I really appreciate all that JSIF has done. I am very happy to be able to shoot videos now,” he added.
Operator of Carol's One Stop Shop, Carol Moore-Rose, told the Jamaica Observer that she is forever grateful for the impact this project has made on both her grocery store and cookshop.
“I got a deep freeze refrigerator and a stove. It has impacted my business a lot because it saves more time with me going shopping. Now, when I go shopping, I can buy more goods to store in the freezer,” said a happy Moore-Rose.
She continued, “I was planning to save to buy them, but JSIF came to give me the support, so I am really grateful.”
Similarly, Peter McDermott, who also operates a restaurant and grocery store in the community, is humbled by the equipment he has received.
“I got a deep fat fryer, a deep freeze refrigerator, and I am getting some pots. This has helped me a lot because, to be very honest, I couldn't afford the deep freeze, and the deep fat fryer is very expensive,” McDermott told the Sunday Observer.
“JSIF really give wi a push start. The project has made my business a little better and I can pay my bills, so mi really like the thing,” he added.