Students from some 41 high schools across the island gathered at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston yesterday to benefit from a one-day business-focused workshop aimed at sharpening their skills in entrepreneurship.
The event, dubbed the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs Annual General Meeting, is part of a six-month programme intended to provide engaging, challenging and hands-on economic education to students.
Wardlan Borah, president of the St Elizabeth Technical High School event planning and pottery business, said his group's mission was to generate funds to help homeless persons in the parish and assist in the renovation of the school's guidance counselling department.
"We are doing well in the business as we are seeing a little profit. We are now planning an event where we will use our pottery to make things for Valentine's Day and we are expecting to do well with that," Borah said.
He said his group was grateful for the workshop which would allow them to interact with experts in the field.
Speaking during the event, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, while commending the financial entities that funded the programme, issued a warning to members of the public sector.
"We must help to enable people like yourselves to get a start in business and some of the confusion and obstruction that is offered to many to get a TRN (taxpayer registration number or a tax-compliance certificate or to get your business registered," he said.
"The emphasis must be on customer service, and if you can't help young people and individuals in the society at whatever level to get on with their lives, you should leave them alone; you should come out."
SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITY
Thwaites encouraged the students to make the best use of the opportunity by being the best entrepreneurs in the island.
However, he said while they were at it, they should ensure that they pay close attention to understanding the foundation elements of literacy and numeracy, which are fundamental in running a business.
"Too many of our young people in schools are failing to recognise that competence in English is essential to success. There are no short cuts to it," he said. "Numeracy, specifically, we in Jamaica, the budding business persons of this country, have to recognise that the phobia for mathematics is not acceptable. Your corner is dark if you do not achieve the basic levels of literacy and numeracy at the right grade."
Junior Achievement is a registered non-governmental organisation.
The company's programme engages youth in the operation of a business, election of leadership, sale of shares, creation, marketing and sale of products, then the liquidation of the company.