PROGRAMME manager at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Heather Johnson, hailed the Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) developed by the CARICOM secretariat as a success. She was addressing the closing ceremony held recently at the Ministry's New Kingston office.
"The Jamaican experience, which was the first of a pilot project in the region, had surpassed expectations. Jamaica is the first... I had no doubts. I knew Jamaica was going to be good, because I know Jamaicans and I know Jamaican young people, and I had no doubts and I have not been disappointed," she said.
Dr Johnson added that by the end of the five days, there was a marked difference in the young people, which was manifested in increased confidence and their use of business terminology.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, in her address, urged the participants to recognise and seize business opportunities to turn their dreams into reality.
"I don't buy the notion that nothing 'naaa gwaan', or 'is just so the system set'. There is nothing easy about achieving success. It takes work. It takes beating down the odds... You have to seize opportunities when they come," the minister stated.
"There is no amount of legislation, there is no amount of money, and there is no amount of nice clothes, or a good address that will put you in a position if you don't have that drive and that ambition to want to get there. We can't give that to you. You have to want it for yourselves," she added.
Twenty-nine young people benefited from the five-day workshop aimed at equipping them with values and attitudes as well as entrepreneurial skills to create and manage successful businesses.
During the workshop, the young people were divided into groups and given small loans equivalent of US$25 each to start a simulated business. They were taught how to make a business plan and certain key concepts to operate a successful venture. They were also mentored by successful business persons such as the owner of Patwa Apparel, Heneka Watkis-Porter, and Treacha McCalla, winner of the Nationwide Scotia Bank Entrepreneurship Challenge.
In every case, the youngsters were able to repay the loan and make a profit, in some instances in excess of 100 per cent.
The businesses included a bakery, a graphics company, a cosmetology and an entertainment company, with names such as: Grafixpro Ltd, Pink Panther Bakery, AD Limited, Nature of Beauty and Extra Entertainment.
Minister Hanna re-assured the young entrepreneurs that the Ministry stands ready and willing to provide the necessary support that they can utilise to further build and develop on their business initiatives.
CEBO is part of a regional programme, which is targeted at young people 15 to 29-years-old. Jamaica is the first country to benefit under the initiative, which will also be implemented in Dominica, The Bahamas, St Kitts and Nevis, and Belize.
CEBO was developed after research conducted by the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development in 2010, revealed that the major concerns facing young people across the region were crime and violence. Out of the report, the CARICOM Heads of Government identified youth entrepreneurship development as a regional priority for countering high unemployment levels, and reducing crime and violence and drug abuse among young people.
The local training programme was conducted with support from the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Ministry of Youth and Culture, Institute of Law and Economics, and the Eastern Peace Centre of the Dispute Resolution Foundation.