JIS News

KINGSTON — Fifty four beneficiaries of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) have received $3 million in Government grants, to assist with micro-business ventures.

They were handed their cheques at a ceremony at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday June 22.

The funds were provided under the $70 million Entrepreneurship Grant Initiative of PATH’s Steps-to-Work project, which assists persons with businesses, ranging from poultry rearing to fashion designing.

About 1,000 persons are expected to get assistance under the initiative. Each beneficiary initially receives a maximum of $100,000 to establish, or expand, his/her business.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, who handed over cheques, charged them to make good use of the opportunity.

“Many of you have demonstrated the capacity to work hard and be successful and are already benefiting under the Steps-to-Work programme. We are therefore asking you to see this as an opportunity to move forward. You have a chance to emerge as (some) of Jamaica’s successful business persons,” he said.

He stated that the initiative presented an opportunity for socio-economic development, and demonstrates Government’s commitment to improving the lives of beneficiaries, empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and “move onto the road of success."

Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie, noted that the initiative was an indication of the Government’s interest in citizens taking priority over politics.

He advised the beneficiaries to ensure that whatever they do is something that they have given thought to, they can manage and can start small and grow, gradually.

Director of Social Security in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, said the recipients, who hail from across the island, have undergone a rigorous training programme with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), to give them basic business management and customer service knowledge.

“The clients have also been exposed to the personal development programmes that are offered by Steps-to-Work, and have developed their three-year plan of action aimed at increasing their capacity to seek and retain employment,” he said.

The individual development plans will be a road map for their development and, based on their success, will be a blue print for others to follow, he said.

Administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Steps-to- Work programme was initiated in 2008 as an exit strategy from welfare to work, where working-age members of PATH households are engaged in initiatives aimed at job readiness, as well as skills and competence building.

PATH is a conditional cash transfer programme of the Government, which delivers social assistance benefits to the neediest persons in the society.