Business

Young entrepreneurs in Rockfort expand project with $1-m grant

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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AFTER receiving a $1-million grant from the Digicel Foundation/Queen's Young Leaders Programme, the Rockfort Development Council Benevolent Society (RODECO) expanded its social enterprise project for the betterment of young people in Rockfort, east Kingston.

A release from the Digicel Foundation said the funds were used to purchase additional chairs, tables and entertainment systems for an event-hosting and equipment rental business run by RODECO.

The investment will reportedly strengthen RODECO's core business as well as help to start a journalism programme that will spawn a community-based newspaper.

Digicel Foundation said RODECO was established in 2001 out of a need to develop and maintain social intervention programmes that can provide jobs and opportunities for young people in the community who were deemed at risk of turning to violence.

According to the group's leader, 25-year-old Jemar Green: “This is a big boost for the business, because it means we can serve the needs of more customers, while creating employment opportunities for more young people in Rockfort.”

“Using this business as a means to reduce violence in Rockfort has worked, and we want to thank the Digicel Foundation and the Queen's Young Leaders Programme for investing in us,“ he continued.

The release said the money made from the business is pumped into funding workshops, skills training and community events that contribute towards a safer, more educated Rockfort.

Since receiving its first grant in 2015 from the USAID, the release said the social entrepreneurs have remained committed to their mission to build a sustainable business that enables self-sufficiency and a safe society.

“RODECO is a good example of how change at the community level can be influenced by young people who are positively engaged,” CEO of Digicel Foundation Dane Richardson is quoted as saying in the release. “We applaud Jemar and his team for the determination and ambition they have shown as they work closely with other community members to uplift the area. We've noticed, and we are very proud to provide this boost of capital to the business.”

The Queen's Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Queen's Young Leaders grants will also be awarded to organisations in selected Commonwealth countries that can show they are improving the lives of young people.

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