It was established in 1996 as a component of the Government of Jamaica’s (GoJ's) national poverty alleviation strategy. The Fund was designed primarily to channel resources to small-scaled community based projects. This is done with the use of an Operations Manual that acts as a guide to ensure transparency, accountability and efficiency in project implementation.
The operations of the JSIF were initially funded by a loan negotiated between the GoJ and the World Bank. Though the JSIF was initially established as a temporary organization with an initial lifespan of four (4) years, it has been in operation for over 18 years and presently has agreements that will continue until 2020.
The JSIF is governed by an eleven-member Board of Directors, drawn from a wide cross-section of the Jamaican society. Directors are appointed for a renewable two-year term. The Board meets once per month and has overall responsibility for approving annual budgets, sub-projects and related contracts. The Board is chaired by the Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) Dr. Wayne Henry, and the Managing Director of JSIF, Mr. Omar Sweeney, is an ex-officio member. The work of the Board is facilitated by sub-committees that meet regularly to review specific portfolios and make recommendations to the Board. These sub-committees are: Projects, Finance and Audit, and Procurement and Contracts.