BOLSTERED by the success of Phase One of its micro-enterprise business enhancement programme, GetStart, Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners and the Noranda Community Council are preparing to launch Phase Two this week.
The programme, intended to stimulate economic development in the company's operating area of St Ann, has already provided start-up funding for 27 projects since February 2012 from an investment contribution of $640,000.
The start-ups are based in the communities and include block and tile manufacturing, cabinet making, crop farming, craft and garment making, hairdressing, poultry farming, and animal husbandry.
The project's second phase, targeting 40 projects for 2013, will be launched at the Noranda Sports Club, Discovery Bay, this Wednesday, February 27, by Noranda Jamaica's President Pansy Johnson.
Noranda's Community Relations Superintendent Kent Skyers, who is also chairman of the Community Council, says that the Council is pleased with the response to the programme and the application displayed by the participants.
"Potential projects are identified by the Council members," says Skyers, "and approval by the Council administration is granted after rigorous assessment based on evidence of need, self-reliance, and enterprise."
According to the company, the project is inspected by the Council before granting or rejecting the application, and follow-up visits are carried out to provide advice, support and progress reports.
Council member Ernest Cover, who is a successful Discovery Bay poultry farmer, acts as a resource person for participants who start their projects with a grant of 50 chickens plus feed supplies.
"We advise them on how to line their coops against weather and sanitation conditions, how to select their baby chicks, and the ideal time for slaughtering and selling."
He gives the chicken projects a 75 per cent good progress rating, and encourages the owners to reinvest and expand their farms from sales.
Cover has been supported by parish RADA officers who have led seminars for Council members as part of the GetStart programme.
A follow-up visit made by Council members on January 30 indicated a high level of appreciation and hard work from the project owners, according to Council Public Relations Officer Ann Marie Scott.
A tile-manufacturing project started at Old Folly has resulted in orders from hotels, reports George Brown, chairman of the Old Folly Community Club.
Lenford Lynch's block factory in Thicketts had run out of materials but has restarted thanks to a donation of cement and stone dust from GetStart in January.
Suzanne Lamont, who started her chemical sales business in Discovery Bay in December told the visiting team that her business had improved over the past few months and shows great promise.
"I, therefore, take it as my responsibility to help in the development of the programme for future participants and hereby donate $5,000 towards the fund," she said.
George Benbow, a young pig farmer in Bethel Town, lost his first 'drop' of piglets during the passage of Hurricane Sandy late last year, but has maintained his small sty and expects to see an expansion in March.
"There is a fair amount of income and employment generation to be realised from this programme," said Skyers. "It meets the objective of creating sustainable projects while enhancing the community's ability to start their own businesses independent of, or working with Noranda to improve the quality of life."
"GetStart is a low-cost programme that depends for its success on the initiative and hard work of the participants," noted Pansy Johnson.
"This is community empowerment at work and we congratulate the Council and our neighbouring residents on their display of social and economic entrepreneurship," she added.