No limits for Lanisia Rhoden
Former festival queen for the parish of Manchester, Lanisia Rhoden, has been a trailblazer in youth entrepreneurship, and has accomplished a lot in an impressively short time frame.
To date, one of her most important accomplishments has been the establishment of the Young Women/Men of Purpose (YWOP/YMOP) programme which she started in 2009,during her reign. The organisation provides career services to young men and women in Manchester - including mentorship sessions on different vocations, presentations from professionals, and pairing a mentee with a volunteer.
"We started the organisation to help young women who are ignored or who aren't given enough attention because of their family background or situations they may get themselves in. What started out with catering to women between the ages of 16-25, was quickly expanded to include men, as young as 13 years old," Rhoden explained.
Rhoden who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in food service management from the University of Technology, and a Master of Science in innovation management and entrepreneurship from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, further reveals that outside of mentorship, YWOP has carried out three projects that are internationally funded.
"We have been doing very well and have done quite a bit of work in central Jamaica. As a registered non-governmental organisation, we have embarked on a number of projects that has helped many people to realise their dreams and true potential," Rhoden added.
These projects have included, The Youth Entrepreneurship Project, which was funded by the UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund in 2013, REAP (Realise Embrace Achieve Your Purpose), which was funded by the Commonwealth Youth Council and CUSO International and REAP 2 that was recently concluded, that provided training for 42 young women, funded by the Canada Fund for local initiative.
"Through the entrepreneurship project, we were able to train 50 young entrepreneurs in Manchester, and were able to give business grants of US$500 to the top 14 businesses, and that was open to entrepreneurs between 18 and 32 years old," Rhoden highlighted.
The organisation has now grown to over 50 volunteer members who regularly goe into schools to conduct presentations aimed at empowering students and building their self-esteem.
"Everyone involved in the project is a volunteer. It does take a lot of time, but we have been able to create a balance and make it work. Time management is important and scheduling works. Youth and community development and entrepreneurship are my passions and everything I do is interconnected, so I am able to get things done more efficiently," Rhoden said.
As a spin-off from the interactions with these youth, Rhoden has also conceptualised the 'Link Your Purpose' technology application for high school students to help them determine their career goals, and the areas best suited for them.
The app also features university guides, local and internal scholarship offers as well as content for students to identify the prerequisite courses to guide their career path after high school.
Rhoden, the recipient of the Governor General's Achievement Award for Manchester and the beneficiary of a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, has not only won positive feedback for her innovation, but has also secured an international fellowship at the Do School for Social Enterprise in Germany to further develop and implement her plans and objectives.
As part of the programme, she participated in a 10-week incubation period on campus in Germany, where fellows were asked to solve a challenge for H & M a multinational retail clothing company.