It's Oneika!

Career & Education

It's Oneika!

Young woman wins inaugural creative entrepreneurship challenge

Young woman wins inaugural
creative entrepreneurship challenge

Sunday, March 08, 2020

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A week ago, development studies master's student Oneika Young was convinced her efforts to come out ahead in a business start-up competition had been dashed. Imagine her feeling then, when on Thursday the South South Collective named her winner of its Creative Enterprise Challenge.

“I'm extremely happy,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “It has made all that hard work feel even better than before. I am immensely proud of myself and winning this competition cemented the fact that KooYah Ja will be a success.”

Young and the three other students who set out on the challenge had just about six weeks to conceptualise and operationalise a business that responded to specific needs in the creative and cultural industries. She came up with a tour company called KooYah Ja which offers tours to cultural sites. She branded the tours Kulcha Tours.

“I won the thing!” Young announced on her Instagram page on Thursday. “I am now the Creative Entrepreneur of the Year 2020.

“Look out, world! KooYah Ja is out and ready.”

In addition to the $20,000 prize money, Young has been offered membership on the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean (WENC) in the capacity of a volunteer. She will have the opportunity to submit her business proposals for funding or mentorship.

President of WENC Ethnie Miller-Simpson made the offer on Friday.

She explained: “Membership is US$120, so in total she won J$20,000 + US$120, that's $36,000.”

Miller-Simpson, who is also chief growth officer of Zenergy International, mentored Young throughout the challenge.

“Proud of Oneika for jumping in, sticking with it and getting it done!!! #womantrepreneur,” she said of her charge on social media.

For her part, Young thanked South South Collective for the opportunity, and Miller-Simpson for the guidance and support.

Young's competitors in the five-week challenge were fellow University of the West Indies (UWI) students Cleveland Grey, Bobby Smith and Demion McTair who were each loaned start-up capital of J$1,000 at a rate of 20 per cent.

The challenge, which ran from January 13 to February 25, was a partnership between South South Collective and the UWI's Institute of Caribbean Studies and its Reggae Studies Unit. In addition to Miller-Simpson, mentors were Xesus Johnston, CEO of Prime Sports; Michelle Chong, founder and CEO of Honey Bun Foundation; and Kevin Jackson, president of Jamaica Animation Nation.

— Kimone Thompson

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