25 Entrepreneurs Graduate From Clarendon Youth In Business Training Programme

Entrepreneur Mark Shand, who owns fashion accessories outlet K&M Designs, first decided to make ladies' handbags from calabash after meeting a woman who owned one for 10 years.

"I examined it, liked it, and started to make them some time later. The same woman saw my version, liked it, and suggested that I make earrings as well," he shared.

Shand said to better prepare himself for this expanded pursuit, he enrolled in the Clarendon Municipal Corporation's (CMC) three-month Clarendon Youth In Business (CYIB) training programme.

He was one of 25 participants who graduated last week and, in the process, received a share of grants through the programme totalling $2.5 million. Each person received $150,000 to assist with their business ventures.

These include fashion designing, welding, grocery/farm supplies retailing, photography, cinema-tography, agriculture, poultry and goat rearing, manufacturing, and food processing.

The presentations were made during the graduation ceremony at the CMC in May Pen.

They also received additional funding support totalling $1.25 million courtesy of Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie, who was the keynote speaker.

McKenzie lauded the graduates, noting that their endeavours "will make an even greater impression on the reduction of the unemployment rate among young people in the island ... [as you] want to be self-reliant and create a better Jamaica for [your] families and [yourselves]".

He described the CYIB initiative as "local government in action", pointing out that "this is a part of community development that is creating the environment within communities so that young men and women can find an avenue for expression".


Training Programme A Bold Move


Managing Director of HEART Trust/NTA Dr Janet Dyer welcomed the Clarendon Municipal Corporation's (CMC) "bold move" to initiate the three-month Clarendon Youth In Business (CYIB) training programme.

"What is happening here today is a powerful example for all our municipal corporations that good things happen when we collaborate and build synergistic partnerships," she said last week during the graduation ceremony.

Dr Dyer further stated that HEART is in expansion mode, having merged with the National Youth Service, Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, and Apprenticeship Board, and is repositioning itself to do more in terms of vocational training.

"We want to stay close to this initiative in May Pen. We want to bring the full measure of our entrepreneurial training and support incubators to ignite this fire into a burning flame that will catalyse a new energy among the young people of this town and beyond," the managing director said.

She indicated that HEART has a suite of tuition-free entrepreneurship programmes, up to the National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) Level Three, that are available to all 25 graduates.


Mobile Training Labs Soon


Dr Dyer said the agency is committed to providing on-the-job training, funding support, labour market intelligence, and capacity building for them.

"Soon, we will be launching our mobile training labs that will go to the nooks and crannies of communities all over Jamaica to bring training to the people, [and] Clarendon is one of our major [destinations]," she added.

Meanwhile, another CYIB graduate, Edward Campbell, a young farmer who has been rearing goats since 2010, indicated that he plans to use his grant to improve his farm's infrastructure and acreage, as well as boost his breeding stock.

Campbell said the most important lessons he learnt from the three-month training course are how to network and to be determined, adding that "I am doing well in spite of the challenges".

Other partner stakeholders in the CYIB programme included the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), National Commercial Bank, and GraceKennedy.

Representatives of several retail chains, including Hilo Food Stores and MegaMart, also gave their entities' commitment to purchasing products manu-factured by the graduates.