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  • Female entrepreneurs are receiving support to improve their businesses through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Support (WES) Project.
  • The four recipients selected for the first phase of the project are local business owners, Irene Moore from Irene’s Chicken and Eggs; Shernett Mott, Richly Done Hair and Nails; Yolande Gooden-Rhoden, Kumea’s Hair Perspective; and Dr. Charah Watson, proprietor of Kihara Cosmetics.
  • They have received a grant of $250,000 each that will be used to improve the capacity of their businesses and get them on the path to formality during the course of the next fiscal year.

Female entrepreneurs are receiving support to improve their businesses through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Support (WES) Project.

The four recipients selected for the first phase of the project are local business owners, Irene Moore from Irene’s Chicken and Eggs; Shernett Mott, Richly Done Hair and Nails; Yolande Gooden-Rhoden, Kumea’s Hair Perspective; and Dr. Charah Watson, proprietor of Kihara Cosmetics.

They have received a grant of $250,000 each that will be used to improve the capacity of their businesses and get them on the path to formality during the course of the next fiscal year.

The grants were issued during the media launch for the project on Tuesday (November 13) at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries in New Kingston.

The project has three phases to be implemented over a three-year period. Phase one is the provision of an entrepreneurial grant to four shortlisted recipients for the 2019/2020 fiscal year; Phase two aims to increase the number of recipients to eight during the 2020/2021 fiscal year; and Phase three will increase the number of recipients to 12 in the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

Project objectives include building the technical capacity, financial literacy and social capital for women entrepreneurs operating micro or small enterprises; to graduate women from subsistence-type income-generating activities to strong, viable micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); and to provide women entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and empowerment opportunities to scale up their enterprises.

The Project is being undertaken as part of a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Ministry of Industry Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the entities on November 1, 2017.

It seeks to address the challenges facing women in business and to strengthen collaboration in the development of programmes to encourage entrepreneurship among women.

In her address at the launch, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, said the initiative seeks to address “gender sensitivities in entrepreneurship”.

Noting that although Jamaica boasts the highest proportion of women managers anywhere in the world, she said data suggest that only a small amount of women are entrepreneurs.

Citing an analysis of nearly 3,000 new enterprises registered in the first nine months of 2014, it showed only 35 per cent of the Directors in these companies were women. Additionally, Ms. Grange said a five-year study of loans to MSMEs showed that 33 per cent of the loans were disbursed to women-led enterprises.

“We need to change all of that, and the MOU between our Ministries is strengthening and synchronising strategies that promote and encourage women’s involvement in entrepreneurship. We aim to increase the number of women owners in the local business sector, and we are providing tangible support through the WES project,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, said the International Labour Organization (ILO) has indicated that there are some 812 million women living in developing countries with the potential to contribute more fully to their economies.

“One of our key priorities, therefore, is to transform our MSMEs into globally competitive enterprises, and, in the process, make entrepreneurship a more attractive career choice for women,” he said.

The WES Project was designed by the MSME Division in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Bureau of Gender Affairs.