The Flow Foundation has launched a $60M pilot programme focused on Digital Learning and supporting Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs). The announcement was made by its Chairman, Stephen Price, in a public livestream on the Flow Jamaica social media platforms this afternoon.
Citing the challenges amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, he highlighted that many Jamaicans and MSMEs are being left behind as the country accelerates its digital transformation.
“Digital literacy and empowering our MSMEs are two critical drivers of enabling progress at both the individual and community levels, especially during this time. The Flow Foundation, in partnership with the Cable & Wireless Charitable Foundation (CWCF), will roll out a national development programme in support of digital education and entrepreneurship across the country, driving more digital learning and support for MSMEs and anyone interested in starting a business,” said Price.
The Flow Foundation will roll out six initiatives under two pillars. The first pillar, Digital Learning, is focused on digital literacy, increasing school and community connectivity and providing certified online training for professionals. The second pillar, Supporting MSMEs, is focused on a JumpStart programme for entrepreneurs, including a pitch element for funding; support for micro entrepreneurs and the small cottage industry at the community level and supporting a virtual entrepreneurship expo.
The announcement was endorsed by Hon. Fayval Williams, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology who delivered the keynote address: “I believe that this programme is timely as we create the new Jamaica where access to the internet is a right, no one gets left behind and government and businesses are fully digital.” The Minister highlighted various initiatives being undertaken by the Government while commending the Flow Foundation and the CWCF for their support in building Jamaica’s technological capacity.
“The work that you are doing is integral to our pursuit of a new Jamaica, a society driven and powered by technology and where every community, student, business, sector is connected,” she said.
Onboard Ruchi Kaushal, Director of the CWCF, which is sponsoring the pilot, stated that, “While our technology is the backbone for development across the region, there is another major calling – which is to make a difference…enabling and empowering individuals across the region and helping them on their path to achieve more for themselves and their families. This focus is very selective as, with the right programmes and investment, it can lead to significant transformation.”
These sentiments were also echoed by the lead partners who delivered remarks at the launch.
Dr. Maurice McNaughton, Director of the Centre of Excellence and Innovation at the Mona School of Business and Management stated, “MSBM enthusiastically welcomes this partnership with the Flow Foundation. Through the Caribbean School of Data initiative, we have been laser-focused on digital literacy and data skills as imperatives for Jamaican and Caribbean youth to be competitive in today’s and the future digital economy. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the urgency of this mission. We are delighted that this initiative has been selected as a pillar for the Flow “Skills for the Future” Programme and we look forward, along with our strategic partners, to a successful and impactful collaboration.”
Ricardo Allen, President & CEO, One on One Educational Services, added, “An economy cannot thrive without an educated and developed people. The world is changing, rapidly and we must adapt and ensure we prepare our professionals for the digital future. This partnership signifies our commitment to that better future. We are excited to see Jamaicans take advantage of this opportunity and learn the skills necessary to adapt confidently and capably to the changing economy.”
The Flow Foundation’s Enabling Progress through Digital Inclusion Pilot Programme will initially run for twelve months as the CWCF assesses the model as a template for the rest of the region. The programme is expected to continue in Jamaica after the initial twelve months period.
Persons interested in participating in the programme should follow Flow’s social pages for when the application process opens.