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The Entrepreneurship Unit at the HEART Trust/NTA has launched a Graduate Assistance Programme (GAP) at the School of Cosmetology in Kingston.
The 18-month programme will expose participants to business plan development and other key elements of starting a business. The format of delivery will be through seminars, coaching and mentorship. At present 80 young men and women are enrolled in the programme under two categories – experienced and emerging entrepreneurs.
Head of the Entrepreneurship Unit, Clive Grossett, emphasised that the GAP is not meant to be a crutch, as there are no guarantees for funding. Instead, successful completion of the programme increases the likelihood of success of graduates to start a business and attract funding.
“GAP is not for the lazy. It is not a handout. Instead it is a reassurance to participants and our funding partners that this young person is serious about business,” Mr Grossett said.
Financial Institutions which are supporting the programme are the COK Co-operative Credit Union, Micro Enterprise Financing Limited and NCB Small Business. However, graduates will be able to approach any financial institution for funding.
The Micro Enterprise Financing Limited (MEFL) endorsed the programme, and announced a waiver of its policy to lend only to businesses that have been in operation for at least three months. Executive Director of MEFL, Sonia Roach-Taylor, said loans would be extended to successful GAP graduates to start businesses.
Speaking on behalf of NCB, Assistant General Manager, Bernadette Barrow, said the programme was timely, and encouraged graduates to take advantage of small business loans at her institution. While NCB Small Business has several options, she said graduates could access the NCB Nation Builder loan that is available at 9% per annum and repayable over 7 years, with a one-year moratorium.
The GAP enhances entrepreneurship training already included in programmes offered by the HEART Trust/NTA within its more than 26 institutions and 100 community based partnerships. Registration for the programme is ongoing and past graduates of the HEART Trust/NTA can sign up at any of the training centres or regional offices.

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