Thu | Jun 24, 2021

Mile Gully's pride

Published:Monday | June 18, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Mile Gully High School, winners of the 'I am the Change' Schools' Business Competition and Expo, and their teachers pose with their prizes and trophies. The expo and competition was held at The Mona Visitors' Lodge and Conference Centre, recently. Sharing their moment is Kimala Bennett (second left), managing director of The Business Lab, and the project managers of the Young Entreprenuers 'I am the Change' initiative. - Contributed Photos
Zabdiel Stone, a young entrepreneur from Mile Gully, Manchester, and Ashley Porter, vice-president of the Mile Gully High School Business Club, pore over the Young Entrepreneurs' 'I am the Change' handbook written by project managers of the student entrepreneurship intiative, The Business Lab.
Ashley Porter, vice-president of the Mile Gully High Business Club.
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  • ¬†Entrepreneurship blooms at Manchester-based high school

Drive though the gates of the Mile Gully High School in North West Manchester and it is apparent that this school is serious about business.

Since January, the students have been managing their very own operation, Mile Gully's Pride: Fruits and Accessories, which they started through their participation in the Young Entrepreneurs 'I am the Change' initiative, a component of the Centres of Excellence programme managed by the Mutual Building Societies Foundation (MBSF). The MBSF implemented the business project in partnership with Digicel Foundation and engaged The Business Lab to manage the project.

The type of business established by the youngsters is simple; but, nevertheless, innovative. They operate from a roving stall, providing properly packaged fruit plates to members of the school community each morning; and at lunchtime, sandwiches and hot dogs are added to the offerings.

"We did our market research at the beginning of the school year, and we discovered that there was a low supply of fruits at school; and close to half of the school population was not consuming breakfast at home, on a consistent basis," explained Ashley Porter, the club's vice-president of marketing and sales, indicating how the business idea emerged.

"Knowing that fruits form a healthy part of a diet, we decided to pursue a business that supplies fruits to the school population."

Accessories, such as hair clips and armbands, were added to the product line, when they recognised a demand for accessories that could be worn without violating school regulations.

The school is situated in a large rural farming community, and the business has developed positive relationships with farmers in the area and traders in the parish capital, Mandeville. Teachers and other school employees, who engage in farming, also supply the business with products.

The MBSF was formed by Jamaica National Building Society and The Victoria Mutual Building Society in 2008 to develop the school-improvement programme, Centres of Excellence, in six rural high schools across the island, including Mile Gully High. The 'I am the Change' project is a component of the Centres of Excellence.

The journey over the past 14 months in the 'I am the Change' Young Entrepreneurs programme has been a road to self-realisation for members of the Mile Gully Business Club, especially its leadership.