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KINGSTON — At least 100 inner city youths, aged 16-29 years old, stand a chance of being inserted into the job market as micro-franchises, under a Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ)/ Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programme for at risk youths.

Dubbed "Microfranchise as Tool for Economic Promotion of Youth at Risk’, the programme, which costs just under US$300,000, aims to create sustainable entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for the youths from eight Corporate Area inner-city communities.

A technical cooperation agreement between the PSOJ and the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) was signed Friday September 9 at the PSOJ, Hope Road, Kingston.

Under the agreement, IDB/MIF has committed US$150,000 to execute the project as a pilot over the next 18 months. The remainder of the funding and other inputs will be provided by several local stakeholders and multilateral agencies. These include the PSOJ, Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Citi Foundation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

Participants will be drawn from communities involved in the PSOJ’s Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) programme, namely Denham Town, Jones Town, Mountain View Avenue, Olympic Gardens, Parade Gardens, Rockfort, Tivoli Gardens, and Trench Town.

YUTE is a 30-month programme, aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of young people in these areas, by enhancing their employability, and providing employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. Benefits and provisions that will accrue to them include: access to credit financing; research and market analysis data; business model designs; as well as support from the PSOJ and other business stakeholders.

The participants will also benefit from the development of operations manuals, which will assist them in marketing, product development and financial management.

Speaking at the signing PSOJ President, Joseph M. Matalon, said that the money will be used to assist the participants in developing and implementing micro-franchise business models, among other things.

“An important aspect of this, is the support which PSOJ will give to these individuals, so they won’t be left on their own and their chances of success will be enhanced,” he said

Mr. Matalon added that the PSOJ and its stakeholder partners will utilize the IDB/MIF's experience and expertise in the implementation of the micro-franchising business in other countries, to implement the project locally.

He said that the programme will seek to leverage the entrepreneurial and employment opportunities of potential micro-franchise operations. He also thanked the IDB for participating.

"We are very grateful to the IDB and the Multilateral Investment Fund for the faith that they have displayed in entering into this agreement with us," Mr. Matalon said.

IDB Mission Chief in Jamaica, Ancile Brewster, described the project as ‘very exciting”, and suggested that it could contribute significantly to self esteem, through its potential to create employment. He also welcomed the collaboration with the PSOJ and their input, pointing out that it demonstrated “great commitment’ on their part.

While noting that focus will be on inner-city youth initially, Mr. Brewster assured that efforts will be made to expand the project to rural areas, particularly in agriculture, craft and culture.

"We are going to be pursuing that very vigorously as we go forward. We are very optimistic that, at the end of this initiative, we would have started (and) catalysed something that can be expanded tremendously, not only here in Jamaica but, of course, throughout the region," he said.

 

By Douglas Mcintosh, JIS Reporter