Wed | May 22, 2019

Wards of the state to get help with business plans

Published:Monday | February 4, 2019 | 12:10 AM

Wards of the state ­desirous of starting their own business are set to benefit from an entrepreneurship programme that will see them getting training and grant funding to transform their vision into reality.

The programme is being spearheaded by The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Jamaica under its Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) project. Approximately 50 young people who used to live or are currently living in a children’s home are being targeted.

Entrepreneurship facilitator and field assistant for the TLP-CSC ­project, Kathi-Ann Thomas, said they intend to train their first cohort of 12 persons later this month.

“For those trainees who have been supported under the project, once they have gone through the training process and they have successfully pitched their business plan, they can be awarded the grant to assist with the start-up of their business,” she said.

“Within the training, if our grant funding is not necessarily enough, we would also guide them on additional sources of funding, whether from the JBDC (Jamaica Business Development Corporation) or from the Development Bank (of Jamaica), depending on what their business idea is,” she explained, noting that there are a number of entities that are supportive of the small micro enterprise sector.

Several persons from The UWI Open Campus and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) have been trained as entrepreneurship facilitators so that the objectives of the programme can be achieved. Training is being done in collaboration with Junior Achievement Jamaica, which currently works with youths in school.

Thomas said they are standardising the training period so they can better facilitate the schedules of those who will be benefiting from the project.

“Remember that some of these youths may have got employment, so we want to fit it in within their schedule,” she said.

BECOMING ENTREPRENEURS

She explained, “Some of them, even though they are ­employed, they still want to do something on the side and ­become their own entrepreneur.”

She finds that those in the first cohort are keen on going into a wide cross section of areas. These areas include cosmetology and the hospitality and food industries.

“Not that they are shying away from their regular nine-to-five or whatever their work is, but we want to show them that ­entrepreneurship is a valid way of employment. Nothing is wrong with being your own boss. It’s the new 21st-century job, and it’s ­another way of fostering self and economic independence,” she noted.

“Entrepreneurs also play a role in contributing to the economy, and their value should not be undermined. It should be encouraged,” she added.

She is pleased that much more focus is being placed on ­entrepreneurship in schools.

Approximately 700 children exit Jamaica’s child-protection system annually, and most are generally not confident of their ability to secure employment so they can maintain their independence. Thomas said that they are reviewing the applications that would have been sent in by these wards or former wards.

“With the training, what we hope to do is to help them to further cement the business idea that they have and strengthen it so that it can become viable,” said Thomas.