KINGSTON — The top two companies formed under an entrepreneurship competition of the Obra youth initiative have been presented with grants of $120,000 each, to expand their business initiatives.
In addition, the companies- Knowledge Unlock Soaring Heights (KUSH) and Glowbal Ink – will also be able to market their products through a partnership with the Sandals Foundation of Jamaica. Their products include crochet sandals and glow in the dark ceramics, respectively.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Institute of Jamaica, Kingston on Wednesday August 31, Executive Director of RISE Life Management Services, Sonita Morin Abrahams, explained that the programme exposes entrepreneurial/life skills training and internships with private sector businesses and is aimed at improving the participants’ employment prospects.
She said that the entrepreneurial training available under phase two of the pilot project incorporates elements of the Junior Achievement-Jamaica programme curriculum, and highlight the concepts of free enterprise, basic principles of business, company formation/structure, customer-product focus, pricing and product marketing, underpinned by instructions in accounting and remedial reading and writing.
President of Glowbal Ink, Keresha Edwards, said Obra bridged the gap between theory and simulations, and is teaching “countless lessons”.
“This entrepreneurship (programme) has enabled us, as youths, to sit together, discuss, merge our ideas and make difficult decisions about running a business,” she said.
President of KUSH, Damion Laylor, said the programme has exposed him to knowledge, while gaining “hands” on experience in planning, building and managing a business.
“I can now face the community and the wider society and say we have surpassed the level of a hustler, elevate it to what we youths would call the real big man, and now we are all entrepreneurs,” he said.
The entrepreneurial programme involved 140 youths from Allman Town, Parade Gardens and Fletchers Land in Central Kingston, who conceptualised five companies – Da-Cuss, Glowbal Ink, Creative Instincts, Sassy Coutre and KUSH.
Obra is a Latin American and Caribbean 2-year initiative, launched in 2009 by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). It is aimed at improving the education and employment prospects of underserved youth in the region. It is also geared at ensuring that young people at risk have improved access to the services and programmes necessary to prepare them for work and life.
RISE Life Management Services is the implementing agency for the Obra project in Jamaica.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter