JIS News

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd has emphasized the government’s commitment to entrepreneurship, in particular, the involvement of young persons in the sector.
Speaking at the signing of the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation (JASPEV) Youth Inclusion Charters of Collaboration on Entrepreneurship, Continuing Education, and Police/Youth Relations on February 1, at the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) Ruthven Road offices in Kingston, Dr. Rhodd outlined a number of initiatives that have been made.
“At the political level, we have begun to work assiduously to address key policy issues affecting the entrepreneurship sector. We are in the process of working with the Ministry of Industry and Tourism to fully establish a credit bureau system that will promote greater accountability from young entrepreneurs, while increasing the confidence of financial institutions and lending agencies to provide start-up capital for new businesses,” he said.
Dr. Rhodd noted that late last year, a delegation from Jamaica was part of a mission to Barbados, where they negotiated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a collective system to finance new businesses in the Caribbean. “We are now awaiting a favourable response from this organisation to ensure that we move to action,” he informed.
What was also noteworthy through this mission, he said, was the fact that the youth business trust concept has been doing well in Barbados.
In fact, Dr. Rhodd pointed out, studies done by the University of the West Indies, at the Cave Hill campus, have revealed that the Barbados Youth Business Trust had the lowest default rate when compared to other financial institutions in that country.
“One of the winning ingredients is that these young people are mentored by businessmen and women across the country. Jamaica has employed this winning formula for the Jamaica Youth Business Trust,” he said. The Jamaica Youth Business Trust, which was established in 2000, targets young people between the ages of 18 and 20 years, assisting them to initiate and maintain their own businesses.
Dr. Rhodd said Jamaica has also led the charge in the Caribbean in forming the Youth Employment Network, which has also renewed the drive to encourage youth employment and entrepreneurship across the country. He applauded the JEF for their leadership in establishing the network. He said the priority areas identified by the network, “show the vision and focus in ensuring that Jamaica experiences a complete overhaul of the way we approach youth empowerment”.
Furthermore, he indicated that there was a proposal to integrate entrepreneurship studies in high schools across Jamaica. “This will instill a sense of pride among our students in developing the skills and competencies to hone their creative talents and harness them to provide economic benefits to themselves and others. Concomitantly, entrepreneurship clubs in schools will provide a practical and hands-on approach to the development of economic independence among our youth,” the State Minister said.
Dr. Rhodd made note of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s announcement of a $1 billion line of credit last week, to support youth and small businesses. This, he said, would encourage young people to take advantage of continued education and transition into genuine small businesses.
He further pointed out that work was being done to establish the Industrial Secretariat identified in the National Industrial Policy to improve the quality of regulation, market research, co-ordination and linkages between large and small producers.
The signing of the Charters has signalled commitments by key government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector companies to improve the quality of service and the opportunities available to young people in the areas of Police/Youth Relations, Entrepreneurship, and Continuing Education.