Youth parliamentarian creates opportunities for young entrepreneurs
For Tavoy Barrett, the charming 20-year-old from St Thomas, facilitating opportunities for innovative and creative youth has always been a passion. Serving as a youth parliamentarian for this year has provided him with the platform to achieve this mission, as he successfully planned the National Youth Parliament’s first Surrey County Business Mentorship Programme.
This initiative aims to equip budding young entrepreneurs with the skills and confidence to launch and expand their fledgling enterprises. It achieves this objective by pairing entrepreneurs with established mentors who specialise in similar sectors of interest. Throughout the programme’s duration, participants attended a series of online workshops exploring topics essential for new business owners. This proved to be a great opportunity for nascent entrepreneurs due to many persons seeking additional sources of income during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barrett told The Sunday Gleaner that the idea for the programme came from observing the experiences of his friends starting their own business.
“I have friends who have directly started businesses and I have seen at first hand how the lack of knowledge can affect the overall start-up period, so understanding that there are certain processes that have to be followed is important and sometimes it is best to learn from persons who have done it before. That is what led me to suggest the idea,” he said.
Seeing the merit of his proposal, several fellow youth parliamentarians, including Marleen Campbell and Rodrick Chance, coalesced around his vision. Hosting these workshops was key to providing entrepreneurs with the tools and map to navigate the hazardous labyrinth of the start-up phase.
Barrett explained, “We have had three major workshops. One of our workshops was social media marketing for entrepreneurs. That gave people an understanding of different software, tools and best practices for marketing their business online. The other two workshops focused on personal branding and productivity tools for young entrepreneurs. The personal branding workshop focused on them being able to sell the business, product or service they are offering and especially themselves to potential customers and clients.”
He highlighted that time management and balance were very important for young entrepreneurs, as many of them are students. Therefore, it is not surprising that the productivity session proved to be the most popular seminar among participants. This session examined an often-forgotten aspect of the start-up phase – the registration process itself.
Barrett expounded, “The third workshop focused heavily on the foundational aspect of things so it gave participants ideas on how to actually complete the business registration process. There was also a presentation on pitching your company, done by D’Andre Frazer, CEO of Billodex.”
Several participants expressed that having Frazer as a mentor was god sent.
For Dahlia Richards, being paired with Frazer was an unforgettable experience.
“It was great and he taught me a lot of things. He was very receptive to me and my ideas and he gave me his time, a lot of advice and even lessons and homework,” she chuckled, “every time we got on a call, I had to take notes.”
Richards’ most rewarding experience was gaining the knowledge to write a business plan and attract investors. Armed with her optimism, positive brand and now her registration certificate from the Companies Office of Jamaica, the young businesswoman is ready to expand her company, Stunner Revolutionary Services, to tackle new prospects in this ever-changing world.
This is just one of several success stories.
With a magnetic smile, Barrett added, “Through the programme we have impacted 20 persons from varying industries with different ideas at different stages of the business life cycle. Some persons would have just had an idea; other persons would have had a basic thing going on and were looking to upscale; and then you have some persons who would have been interested in getting their idea fermented and ready to go.”
Going forward, the next step of the programme is to have the participants pitch their ideas.
He articulated, “So now the final lap of the project is for persons to put together a pitch deck and then make a presentation using that to explain what is the problem they are solving, the project or service they will be offering and a basic overview of the industry or space they are in. This would be of great value to participants because now it gives them an idea of how to prepare for pitches in the near future when they might be looking to raise funds.”