Will go back to its roots as coffee farmers
BY ABBION ROBINSON
Having been officially listed on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE), founder and chief executive officer of Deaf Can! Coffee Blake Widmer says the company will be going back to its roots as coffee farmers.
“[This has] been a journey that started very small, with a few people in this room. [Now] five years later, we’re going back to our roots as coffee farmers and that’s what this is about — reinvesting into agriculture and growing our coffee farm,” Blake told the attendants at the company’s listing at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) office in downtown Kingston.
Deaf Can! Coffee supports the deaf community in Jamaica by training young deaf people to become baristas, so that they can be gainfully employed at coffee shops across the island.
The social enterprise, a first of its kind in Jamaica and in the Caribbean region, yesterday became the first enlistee on the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) — an initiative of the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE).
“We’re excited to see our small pilot farm of 1.5 acres triple in size to about five acres. We will also now be able to procure the equipment that is necessary for processing the coffee. We will continue to grow, not only through employment and agriculture, but in having our own supplies of beans, roasted and brewed by Deaf Can! people and served to happy customers,” Widmer continued.
The JSSE enlistee is now able to access the $7.5 million granted by the NCB Foundation and NCB Capital Markets Limited, and the $400,000 donated by Prime Minister Andrew Holness through the Positive Jamaica Foundation.
Deaf Can! Coffee currently employs 18 full-time employees cafés in and around Kingston, however Widmer further told the Jamaica Observer that with the funds, the company is seeking to employ a full-time manager to oversee the coffee farm in Knockpatrick, Manchester.
In addition to the disbursement of funds to the entity to execute approved projects, as an enlistee, Deaf Can! Coffee is subject to the reporting and monitoring of the company — which is a remit of both Deaf Can! and the JSSE respectively — the assignment of a project officer, and the assessment of the social impact of the project.
Thalia Lyn, chairperson of NCB Foundation, alongside Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange and minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture Floyd Green, commended the social enterprise on its achievement.
The Jamaica Social Stock Exchange, which was launched in January 2019, is intended to facilitate funding support through public donations for organisations involved in the implementation of social programmes for the society’s most vulnerable and marginalised citizens.