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FHC Foundation awards innovation and academic excellence

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2015 | 2:49 PM
Realising that graduates leaving universities pursuing entrepreneurship have access to little or no funding, First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union (FHC) instituted its Entrepreneurship Competition in 2006 as a means to aid young Jamaicans fulfill their career aspiration. Giovanni Maddix (second left), winner of this year’s competition explains the benefits of his product UBoards to FHC Executives Maria Morrison COO, (far left) Basil Naar, CEO (centre), O’neil Grant, Board Director-2nd Vice Chairman and Chairman FHC Foundation (second right) and Balvin Vanriel, Board Chairman (right). This took place at the FHC Foundation 2015 Scholarship and Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel. Since its inception in 2006, the Programme has awarded 28 grants to tertiary students with exceptional business plans and ideas.


George Henry from Northern Caribbean University (NCU) is about to see his dream become a reality. The dream, 'Inventive Learner', which goes live for a trial run this month, is a social game-based-learning management system offering a modern twist to teaching.

Recognising that individuals learn differently, 28-year-old Henry is using 21st-century technology to ensure improved academic success in the classroom. But his own success, he partly attributes to the First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union's (FHC) $300,000 Entrepreneurship Grant, which has assisted him towards take-off.

FHC again set ablaze many persons' desire for self-growth at its 2015 awards ceremony held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel, where the credit union issued a $300,000 business grant to Giovanni Maddix, owner of UBoards, an enterprise that produces paper-based whiteboards that are portable, lighter, and more flexible than the standard whiteboard.

"One of my goals on completing school was to have a business. Yet, I was certain that I didn't want to start with a loan. I was very driven to figure out how to secure equity capital in the business," Giovanni Maddix, winner of the FHC Entrepreneurship Grant, shared with guests at the ceremony.

Maddix outlined that his business was two years in the making. The business concept was based on the need to constantly adjust and amend his ideas based on feedback from experts as well as valuable feedback from Basil Naar, FHC's CEO.

"I can't explain to you the joy I feel when I talk with these young people and hear their business ideas, many of which have the potential to be million-dollar companies, but then I look around and realise that graduates leaving universities pursuing entrepreneurship have access to little or no funding. As a person passionate about young Jamaicans fulfilling their career aspirations, I decided that something had to be done, and so we instituted the FHC Entrepreneurship Awards Programme as far back as 2006. We pioneered the entrepreneurship thrust, knowing that entrepreneurship is instrumental in job creation and economic development," Naar said.

"This programme," Naar said, "supports FHC's mandate towards the quest of nation building and the growth of new SMEs while enhancing the welfare of its members and the communities in which the company operates."

building relationships

"The entrepreneurship grant also equips us to build relationships with the youth, creating and sustaining membership

loyalty and revenue generation in the long term," Naar said. Since its inception in 2006, 28 grants have been awarded.

Brian Lumley, award-winning chef and guest speaker at the awards ceremony, shared with the audience where his desire to become an entrepreneur originated.

"Entrepreneurship came as second nature for me because (while) growing up, my mom, who worked at the airport at the time, used to sell gift baskets for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day just so that we could get a little bit of extra cash to spend at Christmas. So I had to mimic her. In college in my third year at HEART, I started my company, Foodie Focused Limited ... . If I knew then about one of these grants, this would have filled a gap, a huge void. Therefore, I commend FHC for providing a scholarship like this."

Also keen on youth development, FHC offers several

opportunities to secondary and tertiary students through the YOUTH Savings Programme as well as the annual FHC GSAT and Tertiary Scholarships. Additionally, FHC awarded 17 GSAT and tertiary scholarships at the ceremony to selected youth savers of the credit union who have maintained a minimum B average.

Vaniah Findley, Gizelle Mowatt, Leonette Headley, and Dayna Devonish were awarded the Renald Mason Scholarship instituted in honour of his stalwart contribution to the credit union movement; and Tameka Norman and Roje Dave Miller, the Oswald Thorbourne Scholarship, instituted in honour of the founder of Churches

Co-operative Credit Union for displaying leadership and community volunteerism, while maintaining a minimum 3.5 GPA.

Gizelle Mowatt, a full-time International University of the Caribbean media and communications student, shared her testimony: "We each have our personal struggles. These scholarships are more than just tuition, far more than just money. Many of us were on our last leg, desperate, but each filled with our dreams and still facing the obstacles of insufficient finances. The FHC Foundation has given us hope, a reignited commitment to excellence, and the will to be a blessing to others."

This year, the FHC Foundation awarded grants and scholarships to students who excelled at the highest levels while vowing to continue its efforts in the years to come.

list of Scholarship/

Award winners

GSAT scholarships:

Shenoya Brown, Kiona Baxter, Zantaye Williams, Anthea Thompson, Marc Arbouine, Antoine Dallas, Celine Nicholson, Alliyah Windross, Peta-Gaye Taylor, Abeo Antoinette Hinds, and Peta-Kaye Tucker


Renald Mason Scholarship: Vaniah Findley, Gizelle Mowatt, Leonette Headley, and Dayna Devonish

Oswald Thorbourne Scholarship:

Tameka Norman and Roje Dave Miller



Giovanni Maddix, owner of Uboards