Twenty-six youths from inner-city communities were on Thursday (July 28) presented with certificates for completing a two-month course in youth entrepreneurship and financial literacy. The project, implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), forms part of the European Union’s (EU) Grants of Low Amounts III (GOLAS III) program, which supports human and community development. It was financed by a $2 million grant from the EU.
Dubbed, ‘Step Up Ina Life’, it targeted unattached and at-risk youths from volatile communities, including Allman Town, Grants Pen, August Town, Tivoli Gardens and Waterhouse, with training provided by the Area Youth Foundation (AYF). They were trained in life skills and entrepreneurship, to build their capacity to start businesses of their own, and equip them with non-perishable income-earning skills. Many people dream of owning a business, so this workshop will be extremely helpful for them. Creating your own business can seem overwhelming, which is why this program aims to make it more straightforward for upcoming entrepreneurs. It was important for these people to learn all about the legal side of opening a business. Things such as getting the correct business insurance are essential for new businesses, they need to protect their company and their products. Insurance is vital for businesses, so it was good that these people were informed about that. Hopefully, these entrepreneurs will be able to open their own businesses now. It’s worth people working in business to consider other forms of insurance too, like health insurance, as they need a plan in place in the event that they suffer an injury or a health condition that puts them out of commission and unable to work. Insuring their health would help to ensure that they’ll be able to cover the cost of treatment and also go a way to eliminate financial concerns regarding how this can be afforded while out of work.
Speaking at the closing ceremony at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) headquarters in Kingston, Project Director and Lead Trainer, AYF, Sheila Graham, noted that the participants received 50 hours of structured training on conceptualizing, establishing and operating a business.
Mrs. Graham felt the program was incredibly successful, with about 12 participants creating their own business plans at the end of the intensive workshops. She noted that of the 30 individuals who started the course, 26 completed it and were presented with certificates.
“This project is a perfect example of what can be done when there are scarce resources and a lot of need, because we were able to maximize our resources by taking advantage of the raw talent and skills of our youth,” she stated.
The Project Director also noted that the AYF has trained more than 350 young people, with the assistance of the EU and JSIF, in various programs over the last year.
Project Officer, JSIF, Rohan Bell, who brought greetings on behalf of JSIF Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, commended the participants who completed the program.
“You have my heartiest congratulations on behalf of JSIF and the EU for your accomplishments,” he told them. He also advised them on the various routes they could take, to make their projects and plans create real and profitable business ventures.
“You can also get further assistance from many organizations, including the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), or if you are thinking of exporting or just finding the best market for a product that you have made or think that you can make, there is also the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO),” he stated.
He advised the participants that getting together in groups, in which they can support each other’s ventures, was a good idea, as they would be able to share ideas and resources and attract funding from local and international organisations, which prefer to fund groups rather than individuals. They could also look into Small Business Funding Options alongside each other.
EU Representative, Helen Jenkinsson, congratulated the participants, noting that their dedication paid off.
“I’m sure the business plans that you’ve been working on will help you to find work now, or in the future, either working for somebody else or working as your own bosses,” she stated.
She said the EU has pumped close to $1.6 billion to date into the PRP II, as it is believed that improving the living conditions of people is an essential way of giving them hope and security.
Project Participant, Princeyanna Tucker, who spoke on behalf of the graduates, said the programme was a “life changing experience”.
“It was life changing, in the sense that many of us didn’t get the chance to go to a tertiary institution, where we would have gained the knowledge which we could later use to be a successful professional or entrepreneur,” she said. Through the programme they learned how to write business plans, cash flow projections and other business skills.
Two participants were awarded special honours: Princeyanna Tucker received the prize for the Most Outstanding Participant; and David Jemmieson for Best Attendance.
Business proposals emerging from the project included bakery and pastry shop, ice cream parlour, games arcade, bar and lounge.