Hats off to creative inner-city teenagers
Nine teenagers from two Kingston communities who have benefited from entrepreneurial training have come together to form their own small business.
The seven females and two males from the Arnold Road and Allman Town areas are now engaged in making hats and hair bows.
They participated in a 12-week programme initiated by Member of Parliament for South East St Andrew Julian Robinson and conducted by the Junior Achievement programme under its Company of Entrepreneurs programmes.
During the training, held from May 9 to July 25 at the Caenwood Centre in Kingston, the teens learnt how to start and operate a small business.
Areas covered include product development, start-up capital, marketing a product, conducting a market survey, setting prices, and conducting a cost-benefit analysis. The training also included leadership and work-readiness skills.
The teens, a mix of students and unattached youth, are now diligently working towards the development and promotion of their 'Kick Out' brand, consisting of bucket hats and bows that have been fashioned into hair accessories.
They have sold 42 shares at $200 each, raising start-up capital of $8,400, which was matched by Junior Achievement Jamaica. They are currently in the process of marketing their products.
Robinson, according to JIS News, said that Junior Achievement Jamaica was contacted and invited to engage the young people in the Arnold Road and Allman Town communities in some kind of entrepreneurship training during the summer as a means of "changing their mindset and creating micro businesses".
While the nine were part of a group of 20 who started the programme, Robinson said he was happy they stuck with the training.
"I'm really happy that they've got to this stage. I certainly will be supporting them to see if they can make it a successful business," he was quoted as saying.
Junior Achievement Jamaica, a five-year-old non-profit organisation based at the Caenwood Centre, implements programmes at the primary and high school levels that are focused on financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship. The programme has already been introduced to 40 high schools islandwide.
Director of programmes at Junior Achievement Jamaica Yanique Taylor told JIS News that the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs is the "signature out-of-school programme" that focuses on teaching young people basic skills associated with being an entrepreneur.
"We don't decide what the business is. They determine, from market research, what they think will make a good product in today's market at a good price point. These (nine) young people decided they wanted their product to be bucket hats. They come up with the concept on their own and learnt how to manage their business," she said.
She noted that the participants have an opportunity to advance their training.
"We have a follow-up programme called the Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, which entails a two-day business workshop to help them strengthen their entrepreneurship skills. They can qualify for small-business loans and continue their business at a higher level. They also receive support in registering their business," she said.
Robinson said that he would encourage young people to get involved in entrepreneurship training as a way of reducing unemployment and spurring micro enterprise development.
"Jobs are difficult to find, and this is a way that they can use entrepreneurship to earn a living for themselves and provide economic empowerment for themselves. It's important to introduce entrepreneurship training from an early age because it's a skill that needs the training so you can become better at it," he noted.