Henley Morgan Bats for Asset Based Community Transformation

… at UTech, Jamaica Distinguished Public Lecture

Dr. Henley Morgan, Management Consultant delivering the UTech, Jamaica 60th Anniversary Distinguished Public Lecture on Thursday, November 22, 2018 at LT-50, Shared Facilities Building, Papine Campus.

Dr. Henley Morgan, Management Consultant, Founder and Chairman of Agency for Inner City Renewal (AIR) delivered the UTech, Jamaica Distinguished Public Lecture on November 22, 2018 at the University’s Papine Campus.    The well-respected Jamaican social entrepreneur spoke on the topic, “Lessons from my Trench Town Journey: Innovations in Community Transformation through Social Enterprise.”

Dr. Morgan, who has spearheaded multiple social enterprises which have empowered hundreds of young people living in the economically depressed inner city community of Trench Town, took the captive audience on a reflective journey, detailing how he has used his successful model of asset based community development to impact human capacity building and social and economic development at the community level and by extension, Jamaica.

Dr. Morgan famously challenged the status-quo in 2004 when he moved his New Kingston offices to Trench Town where he established the Agency for Inner-city Renewal in 2008.  AIR is a   social enterprise company which operates as a CBO/NGO. Its mission is to “transform zones of political and social exclusion to zones of opportunities, investment and wealth.”

Dr. Morgan explained that the company uses the Triple Bottom Line concept incorporating spiritual (the church), financial (business) and social (NGO) assets.   Surplus is used to achieve sustainability and for further investment in the community. The company which promotes self-reliance by tapping into the energy, talent, creativity and ingenuity of the people, has its own CEO, a chairman and various business divisions.   The company is a significant employer, supplying hundreds of contract workers to companies like Honey Bun Limited, Salada Foods Limited, Jamaica Flour Mills Limited and Lasco Group of Companies, among others.

Asset Based Community Transformation

Dr. Morgan throughout his lecture underscored the value that social entrepreneurship has had in reviving Trench Town, which The Economist Magazine (2016) has noted “is no longer a war zone.” 

Morgan explained the approach of focusing more on Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) versus the traditional focus on needs analysis.    Among the many assets of Trench Town, he identified, is the community’s pool of young, trainable population; a rich cultural and musical heritage; wide range of education institutions, churches and civil society institutions and an international brand in reggae, made famous by Bob Marley who was born in the community.  Morgan also pointed to the community’s strategic location as a hub within industrial clusters of Kingston.

Through video and photo presentations he shared on the many social enterprise projects being successfully operate under the AIR umbrella.  These range from tour companies catering to tourists from all over the world to music studios and  ice cream depots.  Among the enterprises are the Jamaica Music Institute (JaMIN) Recording Studio & Protocols Certification Lab, JaMIN Tours & Destination Management and JaMIN Ice Cream and Frozen Novelties Depot.    AIR has also founded, The Miracle Club – a coaching and mentoring organization for young persons, focusing on knowledge acquisition and experiential learning, managed by Dr. Morgan’s son, Adriel.

The social change agent went on to share 10 key lessons learnt from his Trench Town experience.  Morgan spoke of the positive outcomes of aligning national goals and global priorities to AIR’s philosophy of helping people to help themselves.  And while noting that there is a place for charity and corporate social responsibility/“hand-outs,” Morgan made the distinction of social enterprise which results in “hand-ups.” 

“Jamaica’s Vision 2030 overarching goal is at the top of whatever we say when we write proposals,” he said, noting that  “we give precedence to the National Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals,”  adding that “if you are not thinking at this level nobody will feel compelled to give you money.”

The social entrepreneur further underscored the importance of having and sticking to a mission statement, setting and following priorities and having the right strategic plan and a high quality team.  He also cautioned both organizations and individuals to resist trying to be “all things to all men,” and emphasized the value of public/private and civil society partnership.

Ending with recommendations to UTech, Jamaica, Dr. Morgan challenged the university to establish a Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Community Transformation to help in the development of people who transform communities.

The Lecture was chaired by Professor Stephen Vasciannie, CD, President, UTech, Jamaica.  Professor Vasciannie noted that “like AIR, UTech, Jamaica is in the business of developing talent.” The President thanked Dr. Morgan for welcoming several groups of UTech, Ja students from the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL) to his projects in Trench Town, as part of their study tour for the module in Social Enterprise.  These students have been led by Dr. Horace Williams, Lecturer, JDSEEL and former Chairman, AIR and by Dr. Andrea Barrett, Lecturer, JDSEEL.

The Vote of Thanks was ably moved by Dr. Rohan Lewis, Dean, Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies who thanked Dr. Morgan for his excellent lecture and personal style of sharing his Trench Town journey.

Professor Stephen Vasciannie (left), President, in discussion with Dr. Henley Morgan ahead of the lecture.  Pictured in the background is Adriel Morgan, son of Dr. Morgan.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm