Clarendon’s young entrepreneurs praised for business acumen
On Thursday, 25 young entrepreneurs were presented with grants of $100,000 by the Clarendon Municipal Corporation with a an additional 'top up' of $50,000 from the Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie, who said that he supported the vision after talking with the young entrepreneurs and listening to them talk about the various businesses they were undertaking.
During his address at the grant presentation ceremony held on the grounds of the municipal corporation in May Pen, McKenzie expressed confidence in the ability of the entrepreneurs to make a difference in bringing down the unemployment rate in the parish.
"When I listened to the vision and the thought that went into what these young adults wanted to do for themselves; when I looked at what the unemployment rate was last year around this time among young people; and when you look at what it is this year, then you can say that the young people of Clarendon will make an even greater impression on the reduction of the unemployment rate among young people," he said.
The 25 grantees, who are engaged in businesses such as agro processing, cosmetics, designs, farming, and shopkeeping are participants in the Youth in Business initiative, which commenced in 2016 under the Local Economic Development office of the municipal corporation.
The participants were placed with mentors and lecturers for several weeks. They completed short-term training that equipped them to advance their business processes. They sharpened their skills, learning more about the business of marketing, plus the legal aspects of operating their businesses.
Romeo Mitchell, who operates Paradise Blends, which processes turmeric and a variety of sauces, was awarded Most Outstanding in Entrepreneurship, as well as the Mayor's Award for Leadership. Speaking on behalf of grantees, he said that mentorship proved to be a valuable experience as he was now a better negotiator.
"We have journeyed, and the experience was not just a normal one where you just get the theory, but you also got the experience of visiting entities and other agencies," he said, adding that the Jamaica Business Development Corporation engaged them in effective marketing, putting together a good business plan, as well as labelling their products to international standards.
Touting the success of the Youth in Business initiative since its inception, Rowhan Blake, CEO of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, said that it yielded 16 youth-led businesses being registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica, six businesses receiving health certificates, 18 businesses receiving grants, and 17 of the 18 businesses were still in operation one year later.