Businesses in the Caribbean cannot prosper in a society that has failed. This from Chairman of the Foundation for the Development of Caribbean Children (FDCC), Dr Didacus Jules, as he addressed the corporate sector in Grenada at a special luncheon on July 25th. Dr Jules, also the Head of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), was speaking on “The Importance of Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility in Moving the Development Agenda Forward.”
He explained that Caribbean youth delinquency and crime were causing too many young people, to spend their most productive years in counter-productive activities. He also shared that recent statistics from the 2010 CARICOM Commission on Youth Development indicated that youth crimes cost regional governments between 2.9% and 4% of GDP.
As a result, Dr Jules urged businesspeople in Grenada and the rest of the Caribbean “to put corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investment high on their agendas.” He said, “Corporate social responsibility needs to be imprinted into the DNA of business culture and operations in the Caribbean”.
He explained that the main solutions to stemming the tide of juvenile delinquency and other social ills were linked to the provision of improved and expanded early childhood development services, especially for disadvantaged children. However, financial support for these projects would be vital to their effectiveness and sustainability.
Highlighting some of the research and innovations taking place in the wider world, the FDCC Chairman shared that among the international community, Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) or “giving back to the community” has become part of the mainstream, and investors are using SRI strategies to focus beyond the bottom line and still achieve significant returns, comparable to those of more conventional investments.
However, the Caribbean experience suggests that the regional business community is lagging behind. According to Dr Jules, “doing well by doing good has become an accepted business principle, yet corporate sustainability as currently practised has yet to rise fully to the challenge. The principles of sustainability have not penetrated the Caribbean’s business strategy. Nor have we seen the depth of action that is needed.”
Pointing to what he describes as “proven innovations and solutions” like the FDCC’s Roving Caregivers Project (RCP), Dr Jules said socially responsible investment is not properly valued in the region. He said as a result, effective projects like the RCP, were not receiving adequate nor sustained financial support. However he indicated that the FDCC was committed to bringing the business community and governments of the region together to provide effective and expanded Early Childhood Development (ECD) services for disadvantaged children across the Caribbean.
The FDCC was launched in late 2011 in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The organisation has transitioned from the Caribbean Child Support Initiative with over 10 years experience in developing and supporting early childhood development services for children 0 to 3 years, specifically from disadvantaged households across the region. CEO and Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), Dr Didacus Jules, is chairman of the FDCC.