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Project STAR aims to induce 6,500 jobs

Published:Wednesday 1:12 AM

From left: Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, Project Director of Project STAR, Saffrey Brown, Vice President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and Project STAR’s Data Specialist, Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee, and Chairman of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Co-Sponsor and Public Funding Lead Adviser for Project STAR, Julian Mair, discuss the data findings on “Reversing Poor Social Outcomes in STAR Communities” during a press briefing at headquarters of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in Kingston on June 14, 2023.

Project STAR, a Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica initiative, is aiming to bend the trajectory on major crimes while inducing 6,500 jobs in vulnerable communities.

The aim is to curtail crime by 40 per cent in five years, and in so doing create safe spaces for citizens to thrive.

To fund the initiative, the PSOJ has turned to a number of corporate sponsors, but on Thursday it will also become the pioneer of the first social initial public offering of shares via the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange.

The STAR shares will go on sale at $1 per unit. The subscription period runs from June 22 to August 18.

There is no lead broker or arranger for the IPO. Rather, the project has received the support of the Jamaica Securities Dealers Association and many of its members.

“During the lifetime of the project, STAR expects to see sustained reductions in major crime of 40 per cent in targeted communities, which all experience major crime rates higher than the national crime rate,” the prospectus noted.

Former PSOJ president Keith Duncan acts as the project sponsor and Saffrey Brown as project director.

STAR’s work will focus on 10 under-resourced communities, it said. The 6,500 jobs targeted for creation would improve employment levels by 10 per cent. It also provide support businesses that operate in the communities, and improve access to social programmes and human capital development opportunities for some 19,500 individuals, which equates to about 30 per cent of the communities, inclusive of educational support, training and certification, access to government services and improved infrastructure.

“This will contribute to safe, sustainable communities and support for national development,” STAR proclaimed in the prospectus.

The charity aims to raise $100 million from the social IPO, amid a revised budget of $400 million needed to carry through its programmes. The rest of the funds is being sought from the corporate sector, multilateral donors, and Jamaicans in the diaspora.

Over a five-year period, STAR aims to raise $2 billion, and in three of those five years, it plans to tap the JSSE for up to $650 million of the total.

Project STAR, which stands for Social Transformation and Renewal, was created by the PSOJ in partnership with the Jamaica Constabulary Force. It launched into operation last September with plans to intervene in scores of underinvested communities, including East Kingston, May Pen and Savanna-la-Mar.

In the revised funding target and timeline, laid out in the prospectus, STAR’s five-year goal remains at $2 billion, but it is going after $400 million this year, $525 million in 2024, its biggest target of $700 million in 2025, and then $225 million in 2026.

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