JIS News

Seventeen persons, mainly women, received cheques totalling $377,000 to support their micro enterprise ventures, from Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, on Wednesday (July 7).
The cheques were issued under the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education’s (PATH) Steps to Work programme, which seeks to assist beneficiaries in creating sustainable earning opportunities. They were handed out during a ceremony at the Ministry’s, North Street, Kingston.
The beneficiaries were from the parishes of Trelawny, Clarendon, Kingston and St. Andrew, three of the five parishes where the pilot programme is currently being conducted. Manchester and St. James are the other pilot parishes.
The US$2.1 million World Bank-funded Steps-to-Work programme, started in 2008, targets working age Jamaicans from households which benefit from PATH. It aims to provide eligible beneficiaries with the training, entrepreneurial and job readiness skills to become self-sufficient so that they no longer require state assistance.
Mr. Charles told the recipients that the Government is cognizant of the financial challenges facing citizens.
“We are committed to a transformational programme that will better your lives, that is why the Steps-to-Work programme has come on stream,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry is focussed on human resource development, social upliftment and finding a sustainable way to keep persons above the poverty line which, he said, is the purpose of PATH.
He pointed out that 341,000 Jamaicans are now enjoying benefits under PATH, which was started by the previous administration as a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme funded by the Government and the World Bank to provide cash grants to the most needy and vulnerable in the society.
The Minister also pointed out that the administration has budgeted $3.8 billion this year to help the poor, particularly children and mothers living in unacceptable circumstances.
Mr. Charles said that the beneficiaries will be entering primarily into agricultural and retail trade businesses and should be an inspiration to others “that there is a way forward.”
“We are using you to show others that if they have the interest that you have, and take the training that you have, we can give some assistance to them to better their lives,” he said.
Co-ordinator of the Steps-to-Work programme, Marcia Bolt, said that all the recipients have been trained by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and have been certified to operate a business.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Alvin McIntosh, in congratulating the beneficiaries, said that Ministry would ensure that they are given the necessary guidance and training, in order to make their projects viable.
Director of Social Security in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Collette Roberts-Risden, said that the pilot programme would be expanded to all other parishes this financial year.
Winnifred Abrahams, a beneficiary from Clarendon, told JIS News that PATH has been helping her for some time. She said that she will be using her cheque to start a chicken-rearing business.
Adina Thomas, another beneficiary, also expressed gratitude, noting that her cheque will be a big benefit to her family.
The Steps-to-Work programme partners with agencies such as HEART Trust/ NTA, Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), National Youth Service (NYS) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) to train beneficiaries.

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