The governnment of Jamaica

LEDSP of SDC Impacting Lives at Community Level

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The Social Development Commission (SDC), through its Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP), has been making a notable impact on citizens’ lives at the community level.

Director, Local Economic Development and Community Projects at the SDC, Avril Ranger, said the programme is designed to create a platform from which local economic activities and initiatives can develop.

“It is aimed at fostering sustainable economic growth and development in communities. It provides business development support services and resources to local economic initiatives, and these are the grassroot-based businesses we have dubbed our local economic initiatives (LEIs),” Ms. Ranger said.

The programme consists of focus areas such as capacity-building, networking, marketing and partnership building, direct technical support and the implementation of an incentive scheme.

Ms. Ranger told JIS News that the capacity-building component involves coordinating with other ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), as well as providing training and development programmes that are geared towards building out the skills and the knowledge pool of the local entrepreneurs.

“Pretty much these actions that we actually provide each year, which are a lot of sessions, are geared towards having these cottage industry-based operators equipped with the necessary knowledge and understanding of these operations, and also point them to the opportunities in which they can benefit outside of the SDC help,” she said.

“So, our capacity-building platform is robust, and it is actually geared towards building out their capabilities. We engage our local economic initiatives in basic bookkeeping and financial management. We also teach them how to market their product, and how to engage in sales negotiations. We also have other technical support from MDAs which are geared at helping them do proper budgeting and how they go about opening business accounts and getting themselves organised as it relates to the business operations and being compliant,” she added.

Ms. Ranger also informed that LEIs are offered grant facilities through the SDC, and they are also provided with technical support on how to write the grant proposals.

“In terms of… promoting and assisting them with networking, we at the SDC, through our internal programme, our economic villages and other opportunity events that we are involved in, provide a platform from which they can benefit from promotion and sales,” Ms. Ranger noted.

“Our fourth component will be that of our grant facility, where we offer our local economic initiatives two opportunities, that of an SDC-led grant and also a small entrepreneurship grant,” she added.

The LEDSP is funded by the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

Additionally, the programme receives support in kind from MDAs as it relates to training and assisting in identifying experts that are available to meet with LEIs to build their skills in product development and other areas.

Currently, the SDC is servicing 416 LEIs across 273 communities in Jamaica that are involved in areas such as agriculture, manufacturing, art and craft, health and wellness, food and agro-processing.

“We also work along with own-account workers, and this diversity, as you would imagine, helps in creating that balance and, of course, our efforts to building a resilient local economy,” Ms. Ranger said.

The more than 400 active LEIs are engaged in providing employment for 1,378 persons either full-time, part-time or seasonally.

“Seven hundred and seven persons are engaged full time or employed full time, 473 part time and 198 seasonally. The assistance as it relates to providing employment for persons is one of the areas that we are very, very proud of as it relates to our initiatives,” Ms. Ranger said.

“Additionally, we are very proud of… reaching at least 500 residents, as it relates to our skills training and capabilities. So, for the capacity-building component, anyone can attend, but only the persons that we have targeted. But once we send out that invitation to the community, anyone who wants to come to or attend any of our SDC-organised capacity-building sessions can do so,” she added.

She further informed that 40 new LEIs were added to the programme last year.

“One of the upshots of the programme is that some of our LEIs do graduate because they are now strong and they can actually venture out to access other higher-level MDA support services,” Ms. Ranger said.

The SDC conducted 154 entrepreneurship training sessions for 416 LEIs.

In addition, 105 economic villages and business-opportunity events were held last year.

These activities have generated sales revenue of more than $12.5 million.

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