Tue | Sep 19, 2017

KEAP-ing young entrepreneurs in mind - KSAC provides startup capital

Published:Wednesday | November 30, 2016 | 11:00 AMSyranno Baines
Guest speaker Sheldon Seymour (third left) speaks with Kingston Mayor Dr Angela Brown Burke (second left); Stephanie Hutchinson (at back), CARILED/application assessor; and awardees Kadeen Powell (left), Lisa Kerr (second right), and Adrian Watson at the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) Enterprise Assistance Programme awards ceremony held last Friday at the offices of the KSAC.

Thirteen budding entrepreneurs residing within the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) were the recipients of cash grants totalling $960,000 last week.

The grants were courtesy of the KSAC Enterprise Assistance Programme (KEAP), which aims to give support to women and youth by boosting micro, small and medium businesses.

A pilot project was undertaken last year that showed unemployment was particularly high among young people.

The brainchild of Kingston Mayor Angela Brown Burke, KEAP not only issues start-up capital to the awardees but also provides them with mentorship and training from successful business leaders and experts for up to six months.

KEAP seeks to issue $2 million over various phases of the programme.

The grants are categorised in three areas, namely, Business Start-up (15 grants at $50,000 each), Business Development (six grants at $100,000 each), and Wage Subsidy (five grants at $130,000 each).

A portion of the revenues from trade licences keeps the programme afloat financially, stated Brown-Burke, who is to demit office after the People's National Party's loss of the KSAC in the local government elections on Monday.

All start-up applicants underwent an entrepreneurial boot camp prior to applying, after which applications were assessed and awardees identified.

Brown-Burke has emphasised female involvement in the programme. In speaking with The Gleaner, she said: "In doing the research, we found that women didn't have the type of network that men did. They have even greater challenges in accessing capital."

TRAINING MOST HELPFUL

In acknowledging that $2 million was not a lot of funds, she added: "The training part has been the most helpful for them in terms of further developing their business plan. They've also grown in business and self-confidence, in addition to building a bond with other entrepreneurs."

To future applicants, she added: "Conduct your own market research. Understand that you are providing a service, you are answering to a demand - know how to fulfil that demand."

The Caribbean Local Economic Development Project sponsors the training and information sessions. Other partners include: Social Development Commission, Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Young Entrepreneurs' Association of Jamaica, among others.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com