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Business and Community Development Volunteering in Jamaica - St Mary

Business and Community Development Volunteering in Jamaica - St Mary

Support marginalized & low-income communities
Start dates
Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
Choose from 1-4 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 5 hours a day
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Program fees
From $525 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
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Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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This program is ideal for:

Volunteers with qualifications, training or experience in business planning, bookkeeping, website design, social media, financial planning and IT skills and who are willing to lend a hand to local businesses.

Project details

Want to be a Business and Community Development volunteer in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Business and Community Development project matches volunteers with start-ups, charities and NGOs that need help to scale up their efforts, improve operational efficiencies and apply for grants and funding schemes. Volunteers will gain valuable business experience while making a real difference to the success of these local enterprises.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

There are great government grants available for start-up businesses in Jamaica, but for some it can be a challenge to reach the point where they are eligible to apply for them. Volunteers can help them meet the criteria by providing valuable business support and advice.

As a Business and Community Development volunteer you will act as a business mentor to provide guidance and assistance with the basics of getting an organization off the ground or helping take it to the next stage.

Creativity and an entrepreneurial mindset are a must as you will be working with limited resources. You will also need to be proactive in learning about the market or community in which the enterprise operates, so you can best support it to succeed. Skills such as accounting, social media management, website design, business, IT experience to name a few are best suited to assisting on this project.

You will need to bring your own laptop to Jamaica, as resources are limited. You’ll usually split your time between meetings in the local community and working from the program office.

Please note that once you have registered for this project, you will need to supply a copy of your resume so you can be placed with the most appropriate enterprise.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

As job losses escalate as a result of Covid-19, it is estimated that nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods. We must improve access to jobs, decent work conditions and community services in order to achieve peace, sustainable economic growth and a better quality of life for all.

Why do Business and Community Development volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?

When you volunteer in Jamaica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping local small businesses succeed
  • Networking with the local business community
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining business experience
  • Immersing yourself in Jamaican culture
  • Taking in the beaches of Ochos Rios

Volunteer requirements

  • To join this project volunteers need to have qualifications, training or experience in business planning, bookkeeping, website design, social media, financial planning or IT.
  • Volunteers need to bring their own laptop.
  • Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
  • All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

Maliha Saraf
29 May 2024

I immersed myself in Jamaican culture, cuisine, & community with the best feeling and truly had so many fun experiences. The other volunteers I met were also so wonderful and it felt great to be part of a nice, little family with the same interests as me. The whole experience turned out to be the exact opposite of scary because of how well-supported I was and I highly recommend any volunteer to consider the beautiful destination of Jamaica. The people are so friendly & energetic while the beaches are heavenly. The project I undertook was business & community development which involved a lot of creative thinking as well as exposure to unique rural businesses. The entrepreneurs have so much to share and hearing their stories are very inspiring. I highly suggest to immerse yourself in this rewarding initiative!

Anna Spielberg
09 May 2023

Volunteering with IVHQ means you always have someone to help! Your time volunteering is going to change the way you see the world and I had the opportunity to work with business owners and spend time with other volunteers.

Robert Winstead
26 Feb 2023

They can't take away the memories and will have positive impact on your outlook, perspective, and confidence. It will help you grow as a person - even the negative experiences force you to deal with new challenges. I spent a lot of time with people half my age (most international), and they were very accepting of me, so I learned a lot from them in terms of what is new and got insight into the attitudes of people from different walks of life. A favorite moment was going to the Rebel Salute reggae show on a weekend excursion! While volunteering, we were served some amazing dishes, and had a mix of computer and physical work that balanced it out for me.

Challice Penny
23 Jun 2022

I enjoyed getting the full immersion of being a "local" and being independent when going to my projects. I learned the day to day life of Jamaica. I got to connect with locals and understand the culture, perspective, and way of living.

Chantal Lennon
23 Mar 2022

Jade and Mark, our hosts, were incredible. They made sure we were comfortable, well informed and safe. Every evening Jade would come and check on us and made sure we all made it home safe. She always took the time to inform us of what was expected in our program and Mark going around with us to get our SIMS cards, groceries and have enough of local money for our expenses and organized trips. Communication was awesome, we always knew what to expect. Nicole, the cleaning lady would also do our laundry and cook delicious meals, always in a good mood with a smile.

Joe Davidson
04 Nov 2021

I’ve volunteered in 2 different countries with 2 different programs and this was by far the best, guided into the culture by the team and commuting to work everyday like a local was a fun experience. I was one of the first people to do the Agricultural project and it was very hands on and I loved every minute of it. I felt as though I got more in touch with nature than I ever had before, everyone on the farm was super nice and really made me feel welcome. I left everyday with a smile because I knew I was really helping them out and was gutted to leave at the end. The whole team was very helpful all the time.


To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit


Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica with IVHQ


On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.

Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.


You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Break for lunch.
1:00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3:30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, visit the nearby beach, go sightseeing or do some shopping.


With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.

The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.

The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.


A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.

For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between $5 (approximately $5) and $25 (approximately $25) per meal.

For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for $79 (approximately $79) per week. You can book this via your MyIVHQ Checklist once you have registered for the Jamaica program. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know about any dietary requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.

Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.


  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately $329) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $525 Equivalent to $75/day
2 weeks $924 Equivalent to $66/day
3 weeks $1,290 Equivalent to $61/day
4 weeks $1,634 Equivalent to $58/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately $329) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$400 -$500 per week to be sufficient for additional expenses.
  • Light breakfast supplies
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch and dinner
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in St Mary

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in St Mary! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ St Mary program.

Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.


Check what's required to visit Jamaica

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Kingston
Population 2.9 million
Languages English
Currency Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate

The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.

Apply to check if you're eligible!

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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