Women in Entrepreneurship project a welcome boost for female-run businesses
Haircare guru and founder of Kumea's Hair Perspective, Yolande Gooden-Rhoden has big plans to transform her small business into a much larger-thriving enterprise under the Women in Entrepreneurship Support (WES) project.
She is one of four participants selected for the first phase of the three-year project being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) through its Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Division and the Bureau of Gender Affairs under a memorandum of understanding signed in November 2017.
The initiative aims to empower female entrepreneurs, particularly those operating micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, to build strong, economically viable and sustainable businesses.
Gooden-Rhoden, who has been an entrepreneur for seven years, tells JIS News that the project is a welcome intervention, which she anticipates will assist her to improve the capacity of her business.
She says she feels privileged to be among the first cohort of participants in the programme, which provides each beneficiary with a $250,000 grant, as well as technical support.
Gooden-Rhoden points out that Kumea's Hair Perspective, located on Duke Street, downtown Kingston, is poised to break into the international market with its range of natural haircare products.
She anticipates that this will be greatly enhanced by the assistance offered through the programme, which she believes will enable her to get much-needed support, including the equipment, capacity building, training and marketing that the business needs to transition to the next level.
Another programme participant, cosmetologist and owner of Richly Done Hair and Nails Shernett Mott, also welcomes the programme's implementation.
Mott, who has been a cosmetologist for over 20 years, says she long dreamed of owning a business, saying, "I wanted to be my own boss. I had a lot of clients (where I previously worked) and I wanted to step out."
She tells JIS News that her next goal is to expand her business by adding a lunch counter to serve residents of the Mountain View Avenue community in Kingston, in particular, where her business is based, and believes that the WES project will position her to attain this goal.
"This project is very encouraging. It inspires more women to step out and be their own boss, to start their own business and to be entrepreneurs. That will really help us, as a country, to [enable more women] to branch out in the society," she adds.
The other two participants in the project's first phase - Irene Moore, owner of Irene's Chicken and Eggs, and Dr Charah Watson, proprietor of Kihara Cosmetics - also welcome the initiative's implementation.
The four were shortlisted from 75 applicants responding to a call for proposals issued by the Bureau of Gender Affairs in February.
The first of the three phases, now under way, will see each of the initial four participants receiving a $250,000 entrepreneurial grant during the latter part of the 2018/19 fiscal year, when the programme will commence in earnest.
Phase two will see the number of recipients increasing to eight during the 2020/21 fiscal year, with the number slated to further increase to 12 by 2021/22.
At the end of three-year period, the project will be assessed to determine whether it should be continued over the medium term.
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation, an agency of MICAF, will be hosting capacity-building workshops for the participants for the project's duration.
These will provide training in financial management and record keeping, accessing financing and credit management, business planning, product marketing, promoting the enterprise, customer-service techniques, and risk management and mitigation.