KINGSTON — Merchandise produced by companies formed under an entrepreneurship competition of the Obra youth initiative, were showcased at a mini exposition held at the offices of RISE Life Management Services, downtown Kingston, recently.
Items included: glow in the dark ceramics; T-shirts; motivational buttons, rings and crochet slippers.
The entrepreneurial programme involved 120 youth from the communities of Allman Town, Parade Gardens, and Fletchers Land, who conceptualised five companies – Da-Cuss, Glowbal Ink, Creative Instincts, Sassy Coutre, and KUSH.
The contestants had a 15-week period in which to establish their businesses and create their products. The competition culminated with the exhibition where individual company presentations were done before a panel of judges from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE), Junior Achievement of Jamaica, Sandals Foundation of Jamaica and Rise Life.
Speaking to JIS News following the event, Project Co-ordinator for the Obra initiative, Marva Bailey, said the young persons who received employability and entrepreneurial training, were required to engage in all the processes involved in running a business.
“They had to produce the product and do sales and keep track of their transactions, their shares, the stocks sold – all the transactions that they have done as a company,” she explained.
Ms. Bailey noted that the young persons “really enjoyed” the competition, as it allowed them to show off their creativity and afforded them the opportunity to explore other employment possibilities other than a ‘nine-to-five’ job. “They were able to think and actually see themselves owning their own businesses,” she said.
An award ceremony is to be planned to announce the top two teams, which will be given a grant of $120,000 each to further expand their business initiative. In addition to receiving this grant, the companies will also be allowed to market their products through partnership with the Sandals Foundation of Jamaica.
Obra is a Latin American and Caribbean two-year initiative launched in 2009 by USAID and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). It is aimed at improving the education and employment prospects of underserved youth throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
It is also geared at ensuring that young people at risk have improved access to services and programmes needed to prepare them for citizenship, work and life.
RISE Life Management Services is the implementing agency for the Obra project in Jamaica.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter