The private sector-backed Project STAR social transformation initiative officially listed on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) Tuesday (February 6).
Led by the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) in collaboration with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Project STAR is designed to catalyse societal transformation through strategic interventions in under-resourced areas of the country.
By addressing critical social challenges and fostering community-driven solutions, the initiative seeks to create lasting positive change.
Speaking at the listing ceremony held at the Jamaica Stock Exchange’s (JSE) offices in downtown Kingston, Minister of Investment and Commerce, Aubyn Hill, said the ceremony represents a significant milestone for both the JSSE and Project STAR.
“The Jamaica Social Stock Exchange represents an avenue for socially responsible investors, not just people who want to make money but people who want to do well so that they can do good, and that’s really what the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange is about,” said Hill.
Speaking on the impact of Project STAR, Senator Hill noted its success in reducing unemployment rates in targeted communities, citing a historic low of 4.2 per cent. He emphasised the initiative’s role in providing employment opportunities and empowering young people to contribute meaningfully to the economy.
Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, managing director of the JSE, echoed Hill’s sentiments and also hailed Project STAR’s listing as a landmark event; the first listing ceremony of the JSSE for 2024 and its fifth listing to date.
“This is a landmark listing as it represents the first of its kind in Jamaica or anywhere else in the Caribbean and I probably say in the world, coming after the raising of funds through a social public offering. This has certainly been a journey through ideation, collaboration and significant investment by corporate Jamaica and the social sector and is worthy of commendation for all the parties involved,” she said.
“Project STAR is listing today because of the proper due diligence and approval of the JSSE listing and Standards Committee. I wish to recognise that process, the team and also Project STAR in subjecting itself to the scrutiny of listing. The question will be asked as to what listing means? It means that Project STAR, having successfully raised approximately $14.7 million in the first round of capital raised through the social IPO, and while the project is not fully funded, it will have the opportunity, because it came to market to return to market to access additional capital,” she added
Keith Duncan, co-chair of Project STAR, said governance and transparency are critical to building trust. He said, “We are not only accountable to the investors who have come on board and supported [but] we’re accountable to wider Jamaica for this project. We are accountable to the communities that Project STAR is targeting and doing work in. The communities are also accountable for the work that they have to deliver, as they have to have ownership of the programmes of Project STAR, because its theirs.”
With over 1,800 citizens impacted and 74 jobs created in targeted communities, Project STAR is already demonstrating tangible results. Over the next five years, the initiative will continue its work in downtown Kingston, May Pen, Savanna-la-Mar, and Salt Spring, focusing on enhancing community safety, resilience, and social outcomes.