(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Residents of the central Kingston community of Allman Town should be much cooler these days following the donation of more than 1,000 fans worth millions of dollars by Reggae Breeze in conjunction with SmartEco.
The idea was conceived after Reggae Breeze’s Conway Wang refused to dump a container of mostly defective fans. With the urging of his friend Xavier Johnston of SmartEco, he decided instead to use technology to address needs of residents of the inner-city community.
“What we are doing here today is because Conway knows I am into community building, working in inner cities and so on. He reached out to me saying he has a ton of fans that can’t be sold, they need to be refurbished or they are going to be thrown away. So he asked if I had any idea what we could possibly do with them,” said Johnston.
“Not all the fans were in very bad shape. Obviously there are people in the community that needs help and just can’t afford. The idea is to create an ecosystem that makes money. The person buying the fans saves money. The person selling the fans makes a little money and obviously the technician makes a little as well,” Johnston explained.
At SmartEco we use technology with grass roots needs. It’s a model called ‘placed-based communities’, where we go into a community, see what is lacking, see what that community needs.
“The idea is not to bring from the outside to build in the community, but build within the community working with the people,” declared Johnston.
He added: “We have a few projects going that we have spoken with them about and we have got excellent feedback. What we found in Allman Town is that people are hungry for opportunity. They are excited to get involved in order to build whatever they need.”
Meanwhile, Wang said his organisation did not want to waste anything so it decided to gave back to people in this time seeing that most people doesn’t have anything to do now and are idle on the road as jobs are scarce. There is nothing wrong in giving back to anybody as long as they find a need,” Wang emphasised.
“Reggae Breeze has been around for a while but because of the downturn of business we are kind of thinking about maybe in the future that we might discontinue the brand. But at this moment we want to give back first and then make decisions later,” said Wang.
Nyomie Brissett, one of the residents who benefited from the fans, was very appreciative of the gesture.
“I must say a big thank you because this project in donating fans to persons in the community is tantamount, and especially for the elderly as they are very thankful,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
“We are elated that Allman Town has been chosen for his programme. The residents are happy that they can get them at a discounted price [or free],” she added.
“A fan may not look like much but for persons on their budget they have to either cut back on their food or do without. So this is very good for them,” declared Brissett.