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JSIF urges increased partnership with service clubs

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Managing Director, Omar Sweeney, is encouraging more service clubs to support community development projects such as those being implemented by the agency.

He said their input in this regard is important to JSIF's work, noting that “everything that we have done has come through partnerships”.

“Those partnerships include government agencies and ministries, the private sector, community-based organisations, non-governmental organisations and service clubs,” he noted.

Sweeny was speaking under the theme 'Volunteerism: An Investment for Sustainable Development,' at the Kiwanis Club of Barbican's third anniversary meeting held at the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission's office on Hagley Park Road in Kingston yesterday.

He highlighted JSIF's history of partnerships with several Kiwanis Club chapters that have facilitated the implementation of key projects islandwide.

These include the Jones Town mentorship and training programmes, in tandem with the North St Andrew Chapter; the expansion and provision of equipment for the Montego Bay School of Hope, in partnership with the Montego Bay Chapter; construction and provision of equipment for Brighton Basic School in St Elizabeth, in collaboration with the Santa Cruz Chapter; and construction of the Samuel Prospect Basic School in Trelawny, which involved the Falmouth Chapter.

“The professional expertise that the clubs offer is not easily found. You all come with different skills and talents, and there are communities with vulnerable persons who need that expertise. They need the skills that you have, and if there is a direction or some support that you need, then we can find a way to do it together,” the managing director said.

Additionally, Sweeney said service clubs are able to act as business proxies to facilitate the flow of funds to communities.

“Many vulnerable communities can access funding for projects, but because they are not a legal entity, they are unable to sign a contract, open a bank account or get certain statutory requirements, like a tax compliance certificate, for the financing to flow. The club can serve as that sort of proxy that will allow financing to flow… . These are some of the opportunities that exist,” the managing director explained.

Noting that over the years, service clubs have assisted in facilitating the implementation of projects worth “millions of dollars”, Sweeney said the largest single undertaking that JSIF has jointly executed with any such organisation was valued $100 million.

“A club stood up to the plate and said, 'We have the expertise that will manage this on behalf of the community and execute the work'… and they did. Not only did they manage the $100 million… they returned close to $8 million… (as) the project came in under budget. So this, too, is the type of opportunity that exists for service clubs,” he added.

Sweeney implored members of the Kiwanis Club of Barbican and other service organisations to “really consider what I have said”, adding that “volunteerism is a way that you can give back in a meaningful way that can be of great reward”.

JSIF implements projects through funding from the Government of Jamaica and multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, European Union, and Caribbean Development Bank.

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