Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) executives were witnesses to the launch of the National Grow Castor Bean Project on Wednesday March 22, 2017 at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston. The Project is being managed by the Urban and Rural Ministry of the Jamaica Baptist Union Mission Agency, which used the occasion to announce the start of the project being funded by an overseas donor to the tune of US198,000 or approximately J$25 million, bringing the total grants approved under the JBDC’s Tapping into Donor Funds Proposal Writing Workshop® to $127 million.
“This project has been over three years in the making and JBDC played a significant role in helping us to get to this point. I was a participant of the inaugural Proposal Writing Workshop in 2013. The Mandeville representative, Mrs. Terry-Ann Clahar-Weir has also worked closely with members of our church in business planning,” explained Dr. Judith A. Johnston, Community Development Specialist & Social Entrepreneur.
Dr. Johnston says the funding will enable the organization to put the first 400 acres (of the 1000 acre target) of castor bean into production. So far, 80 farmers have signed on to participate in the project which is being implemented in ten (10) parishes. Dr. Johnston estimates that there will be approximately 200 participants when the remaining acres are used.
“Often times, we see other produce failing because there’s no market. They invest and it comes to nothing. What we want to do is engage our farmers in things that have a value-added component, so whether it’s the castor beans, breadfruit or cassava there are value-added products to be derived such as oil and flour,” she said.
Dr. Johnston says with the help of the Ministry of Investment, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries the organization has also been approved for technical assistance by the Mexican Agency for International Development Co-operation (AMEXCID), details of which they await.
“This is a major achievement for the Workshop, as it indicates that our primary objective is being met. Access to funding is a major challenge for entrepreneurs and social enterprises. As a result, the JBDC has been developing and implementing programmes that will build our clients’ capacity to succeed. Proposal writing can be an intimidating task for the applicant and that proposal once submitted will undergo intense scrutiny by the potential donor. So we developed a product to address that need,” explained Lisa Taylor-Stone, Project Management & Research Development Manager – JBDC.
To date, close to 300 participants representing SMEs, public sector entities and social groups have been trained. The methodology that guides the implementation of the Workshop comprises: 20 hours of learning delivered over three days and eight (8) hours of post-workshop coaching and mentoring delivered over two weeks.
Last year, the Workshop was officially trademarked by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Organization (JIPO) and accredited by UK-based awarding body, Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). ILM is the leading provider of leadership and management qualifications in the UK and part of the wider City and Guilds Group: a global leader in skills development.
“We believe steps like these solidify the Workshop as not just an intervention but a training product. It means the participants who have fully completed the process can receive a certificate not only from the JBDC, but also a UK awarding organization which will appear very impressive on a list of professional qualifications. Additionally, they will receive 12 months free ILM Studying Membership, free ongoing ILM Tutor Membership, as well as professional development credits,” Taylor-Stone explained.
The news comes on the heels of the JBDC’s recent staging of the Workshop in Castries St. Lucia in November 2016, a historic and ground-breaking move for the Agency. Twenty eight (28) professionals and entrepreneurs from five Eastern Caribbean countries participated in the Workshop. JBDC has since been invited to stage the Workshop in another Caribbean country.
“We are also expanding in Jamaica. This year, we will go out of town for the first time and stage the Workshop in Manchester as there is a demand for it that parish. This is slated to happen towards the end of the calendar year,” she added.
Registration has already begun for the May 30 – June 1, 2017 staging which is scheduled for Kingston.
Click here for official press release article.