St James 17 profit from business training
Some of the 17 young entrepreneurs during the St James Youth Innovation Centre's recent business training listen attentively.

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Seventeen young entrepreneurs are now equipped with knowledge to operate successful businesses after benefiting from the St James Youth Innovation Centre's (YIC) Explore Enterprise business training.

The one-week business training, which ended on Friday, sought to reach underserved youth between the ages of 17 and 30 years living in inner-city St James communities, Damian Green, a youth empowerment officer assigned to the parish, told the Jamaica Observer.

"The training is geared towards providing exposure to entrepreneurship and also a certification of the individuals who participate. We target unattached inner-city youths, not excluding anybody else, but persons who may be at home not doing anything or running their small businesses and are not fully competent in entrepreneurial skills," said Green.

Pointing out that the business training came at no cost to the entrepreneurs, the youth empowerment officer said the St James YIC recognises that a lot of the parish's young people are interested in pursuing business, but need additional training.

"The objective of the training is to hone the skills that are already present in a lot of young people, so what we want to do is provide a platform where they can sharpen those entrepreneurial skills in a formal setting where they get top-level training from a highly sought after trainer," he told the Sunday Observer.

On top of the week of business training, Green noted that all 17 participants are allowed to apply for a $100,000 grant to help fund their small businesses.

"For those who are successful in the training, having met certain criteria and completing documentation as it relates to their business model planning, there is a $100,000 component that is available. We have had individuals from previous training currently in the process of accessing this grant," Green said.

He added, "It is not just a one-participant thing either. If all 17 individuals meet the standard then they have access to the grant and as well as business coaching while they are starting their businesses. If they already have a business in existence they will still get coaching as it relates to best practices and areas that they need to work on."

Twenty-year-old Astin Hewitt said this business training is the opportunity he has been waiting for. Hewitt, a Lilliput resident, told the Sunday Observer that he is grateful to participate in the YIC's initiative as he hopes to one day inherit his mother's restaurant.

"My mother has a business and I am going to take it over one day. That is why I was interested to participate in this training so that I can learn to develop the business more," the young man said.

Daniel Turner, a juice vendor who operates from the bus park in this western city, said he, too, believes that this business training will assist him to further his goals.

"This is a very good opportunity for me and I have learned about a lot of stuff that I did not know in entrepreneurship. I think this is great for me so that I can start a business and become a full-time entrepreneur," Turner told the Sunday Observer.

He believes that other young entrepreneurs should "make sure of the opportunity" provided by the St James YIC.

"It is a pleasure to be here, so I would like to motivate others to come as well," he said.

Echoing the sentiments of his participant, the youth empowerment officer is calling on other young entrepreneurs to register for the innovation centre's upcoming Explore Enterprise Business Training.

"We have another entrepreneurship training coming up in November, so we are in the process of mobilising young people for that one. This is an opportunity for them to learn how to properly run a business, so if you are entrepreneurial minded and you want your business to be successful, this is the training that is best for you," Green maintained.

He continued, "I would like to encourage all young people to reach out to a youth innovation centre closest to them. There are several opportunities and information that are offered through the YICs. The challenge we have is with the uptake of opportunities, so we want to send that message out to young people."

Rochelle Clayton

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