Fifty small business owners benefit from HEART grants
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:Five aspiring and small business operators will be chosen from a group of 50 persons to receive grants from the HEART Trust/NTA to set up small business operations in the parish of St James.
The 50 persons, who were selected from across the parish by the Social Development Commission (SDC) in collaboration with the HEART Trust, were hosted at a sensitisation session at the Social Development Commission, St James office, in Albion last Thursday.
Nordia Freeburn Hamilton, acting workforce solution manager at the HEART Trust/NTA, said the agency was working to assist the process to spur economic activity and boost employment prospects in communities across the island.
"This group will be divided into two groups, which will undergo intensive entrepreneurship training for a period of five weeks, and will be required to present a business proposal and defend it using the necessary documents and resources.
So, a group of five - with the most feasible plans - will be chosen from this group to receive grants to establish their businesses," Hamilton explained, adding that the training sessions are expected to start at the end of this month.
She also asked the group to ensure that they attend the sessions, as a reduction in numbers could mean a suspension of the session and the entire programme, as the HEART Trust was investing heavily in it.
"It is imperative that you attend the sessions because it is expensive to secure the services of the resource personnel who will be conducting the sessions," she said.
Charlene Jackson, acting industry liaison officer at the HEART Trust/NTA, in her presentation advised the participants that, following the training session, they will be assessed and presented with a certificate indicating their competence and function in their respective skill areas.
"Some of the skills you have already, so what HEART is going to do is to formalise it. Certification will help to prove the level of competence of the individuals involved in the programme, and should make life easier for you when trying to do business with financial institutions or other entities," said Jackson.
Deroux Jones, local economic development officer, SDC St James, added that the SDC has also collaborated with Member of Parliament for West Central St James Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams to provide funding for additional persons involved in the programme, with grants to start or boost their business.
"As a stakeholder, she would be assisting persons from her constituency to establish their business. It would be to fund any community development idea in terms of a business plan that actually has backward integration, as far as community development is concerned," Jones said.
He added that the SDC is also seeking funding to assist with any business idea that may emerge at the end of the training session, especially those that would galvanise an entire community towards a business model.