• Feature
    Hearing impaired entrepreneur, Shaquille Anderson, s of 'Yadz Sandals'
    Photo: Contributed

    Story Highlights

    • Twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur, Shaquille Anderson, is determined to succeed and employ other young persons with special needs who have a hard time finding a job.
    • Mr. Anderson, who was born without a right eardrum and lost most of the hearing in his left ear at age 13, knows the struggles and frustrations others like him face in society.
    • “After leaving high school, I found it hard to get a job. No one wanted to hire me, mainly because of my disability. It hurt, but I decided that I was going to make something of myself on my own terms, and in the process, I will help others like me,” he tells JIS News in a recent interview.

    Twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur, Shaquille Anderson, is determined to succeed and employ other young persons with special needs who have a hard time finding a job.

    Mr. Anderson, who was born without a right eardrum and lost most of the hearing in his left ear at age 13, knows the struggles and frustrations others like him face in society.

    “After leaving high school, I found it hard to get a job. No one wanted to hire me, mainly because of my disability. It hurt, but I decided that I was going to make something of myself on my own terms, and in the process, I will help others like me,” he tells JIS News in a recent interview.

    With support from his maternal grandparents, who raised him in Vineyard Town, he set out to prove others wrong about his perceived limitations.

    He learnt to adapt to his environment, developing the ability to read lips and has started learning Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) to enable him to communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community (Deaf/HH).

    Hearing impaired entrepreneur, Shaquille Anderson, shows off a pair of his ‘Yadz Sandals’

     

    He enrolled as a trainee of the HEART Trust/NTA Learning for Earning Activity Programme (LEAP) Centre in May 2015, graduating in March 2016 after successfully completing the joint shoemaking programme, and received his National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) Joint Certification.

    He later created Yadz Sandals, specialising in handcrafted products, including sandals, shoes, bags and belts. All the products are made from genuine snake skin leather.

    “Yadz Sandals came from the phrase ‘mek a yadz’ that my neighbours say from time to time. It is similar in meaning to someone going on a journey,” Mr. Anderson tells JIS News.

    “You have to make movements to survive, and I am providing an avenue for persons to move forward in their lives through my products,” he adds.

    In an effort to get capital for his business, Mr. Anderson approached the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and was referred to the Jamaica Youth Business Trust (JYBT).

    Beautifully designed sandals by Shaquille Anderson of ‘Yadz

     

    The JYBT is a social development and transformation organisation that works to reduce unemployment among the nation’s youth through a variety of entrepreneurial ventures and by providing business counselling and microfinancing.

    Since the inception of the JYBT in November 2000, a total of 159 young entrepreneurs have received training, with 15 businesses receiving capital.

    “Since Shaquille has been with us, the JYBT has begun to explore ways to engage and serve other entrepreneurs from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in Jamaica, as we have recognised the need to be inclusive and provide equal opportunities,” Acting General Manager of the JYBT, Stacy Ann Gavin, tells JIS News.

    “At the JYBT, we train our target audience in creating business plans, building portfolios and how to consistently market their products. Shaquille was 10 steps ahead of the game when he came to us as he already had those things prepared. What he really needed was the capital,” she notes.

    Mr. Anderson is grateful for the assistance of organisations like JYBT for helping him without limiting him because of his disability.

    Products in the Yadz Sandals inventory are done to order and can be found in select gift shops across the island. The sandals and bags are currently his bestsellers.

    Beautifully designed sandals by Shaquille Anderson of ‘Yadz Sandals’

     

    Mr. Anderson, who speaks in hushed tones and with slight distortions due to his hearing loss tells JIS News that over the next five years, he hopes that Yadz Sandals will be a leading brand of handcrafted products in the Caribbean, providing opportunities for the Deaf/HH persons.

    The JYBT has partnerships and affiliations with agencies such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA); Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

    For more on entrepreneurial training at JYBT, contact jybtforyouth@yahoo.com. For more on the products made at Yadz Sandals, contact Mr. Anderson at shaqyadz123@gmail.com.