Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Kill Fear campaign inspires young woman to start own business - Krystal Tomlinson hopes to inspire youth with more than just her book

Published:Sunday | September 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Lisa Dennis at her budding poultry farm.
Dennis, explains her operations to Krystal Tomlinson during a recent site visit.
Finalists share a moment with judges Krystal Tomlinson (left), and Jerome Jarrett (second right) with UWI Guild President, Shevon Williams (right).
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Even while inspiring people through her book to overcome their fears and pursue their dreams, Krystal Tomlinson wanted to do more. She started a competition series titled 'Fear Less, Do More', partnering with Jamaica National Small Business Loans and the University of the West Indies Guild of Students, to challenge young people to start their own businesses, defying the monster that is fear. At least one young woman has already benefited from the competition and has started her own business.

Twenty-year-old Lisa Dennis is making good on her promise to convert her $100,000 cash prize from the competition into a fruitful business in her community of Greenwich Town.

A first-year Economics student of the University of the West Indies, Dennis hails from very humble beginnings but is intent on being her own boss. She has a mind for business as she secured the top grade in the Caribbean for CAPE Economics in 2017. She recently launched her backyard poultry operation and told The Sunday Gleaner that she was inspired by the programme to pursue her dreams. "I am a fearless person. I always go for what I want, and I believe that if I put in the work, I can use this business to earn and help my family. I will not waste this investment," Dennis shared, pointing out that she intends to expand the business before the end of the year.

Although she considers herself fearless, she was hesitant to start a business because she had little experience. She said that the competition gave her just the right amount of confidence she needed to take the first steps. "I have always wanted to start my own business, but I used to be so afraid because I have no experience," she said. "When I heard about this competition and that I would have to present in public, I almost didn't enter. But I refused to let this opportunity pass me by. I overcame the fear, and now I have something to show for it."

With the initial investment, Dennis has built the first of several chicken coops and stocked them with chickens for both egg laying and meat production. She has already identified her market, with support from her community, to help drive sales. The 'Fear Less, Do More' Seminar is an annual event for young men and women to present a pitch and receive funding for their business ideas. The panel of judges included business coach and entrepreneur Yaneek Page; Jerome Jarrett of Stock and Securities Limited, and Krystal Tomlinson, managing director at the Centre for Self-Management.

"This competition was meant to trigger a culture of bold and fearless thinking among university students. They are equipped with knowledge, training, and an ideal market to begin testing business ideas but are hesitant to take action because they feel they are too young or don't have all the answers to begin a successful venture. With the continued support of corporate partners, we hope to stir their passions and fuel their courage," said Tomlinson. "The competition is also a chance for those business savvy students to connect with each other to share ideas and mentor each other."

The competition saw 10 finalists pitching ideas ranging from hair care to app development to manufacturing.