CVC is invested in social enterprises as a winning strategy to empower community based organisations (CBOs) working with disadvantaged communities throughout the Caribbean to establish projects that will guarantee continuity and financial independency in the long run. Through its SEA Change Initiative (Social Enterprise Accelerator) CVC hopes to see change in the fate of countless CBOs whose services have been scaled back or have disappeared completely due to donor funding cuts in the region.
CVC launched this venture in the English speaking Caribbean, after having successfully started it in the Spanish and French Caribbean earlier in the year. We were joined in Wednesday’s event (28th, July 2021) by numerous CBO representatives from countries such as Belize, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.
During the session these organisations learnt about what SEA Change has to offer in terms of an online modular course designed as a step by step guide specifically for CBOs interested in setting up a social enterprise initiative.
Participants also learnt of SEA CHANGE’S comprehensive mentoring and technical assistance (TA) programme, where the SEA CHANGE team will provide individual TA and mentoring to help CBOs develop their ideas into viable businesses; and for those CBOs with something already set up, take it to the next level. Whether it is assistance developing a feasibility study to help a CBO understand whether their project will be sustainable; helping determine the best legal structure for the business; assistance with writing a business plan to identify opportunities for future expansion; help achieving accuracy in financial projections; assistance with conducting critical market research, or developing and implementing a scale up plan, or just seed funding to get you started, the team at SEA CHANGE are standing by to assist. The SEA change team is backed by the “Buisbono Network”, a pro bono network of business experts from the private sector who are willing to donate their time and know-how to mentor CBOs in areas like business strategy, accessing financial support, managing human resources or providing legal support. This mentoring is always based on the CBOs individual needs, and these experts can provide mentorship over the course of up to 3 months.
Last Wednesday, was also an opportunity to learn about what CBOs in the English speaking Caribbean were doing to secure their own future. Annette Jaundoo from ‘FAMILY AWARENESS CONSCIOUSNESS TOGETHERNESS’ (FACT) spoke about the devastation left in the wake of donors pulling out of Guyana. Rather than leaving the organisation helpless, it propelled them to take action. They established their first social enterprise initiative in 2016, with a takeaway called “Snackette”, which in addition to generating some income, has helped provide much needed employment for the LGBTQ community. These stories were inspiring, and a powerful reminder that when faced with great adversity, we can clamp up in fear or take stock and formulate a plan. SEA CHANGE is not for the faint-hearted, but if your organisation is up for the challenge, the SEA CHANGE team are here to back you all the way!