JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Country Representative for CUSO International, Tarik Perkins, explained that the screening process is aimed at protecting the integrity of the project.
  • Prospective mentors have to submit their police record and they have to pass certain medical tests.
  • The cyber mentorship platform is not limited to volunteers who were in Jamaica.

The Jamaica Diaspora Institute’s (JDI) partner for the Diaspora Youth Connect (DYC) project, CUSO International, has applied a stringent screening process for mentors and volunteers to ensure the confidence of Jamaicans in the project, particularly parents and guardians.

Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’,at the agency’s headquarters in Kingston, on October 8, Country Representative for CUSO International, Tarik Perkins, explained that the screening process is aimed at protecting the integrity of the project, which is aimed at driving the spirit of entrepreneurship among youth in Jamaica.

“CUSO mitigates against the risks associated with mentorship programmes. Prospective mentors have to submit their police record and they have to pass certain medical tests. We inform mentors through ‘pre-departure’ and ‘in-country’ orientations, about Jamaica’s Child Protection Policy, for example, as they will be coming to work in different communities and interacting with our youth,” Mr. Perkins explained.

He added that the stringent recruitment process is also applied to Diaspora volunteers, including persons who are accustomed to the culture, laws and policies of Jamaica.

The DYC initiative seeks to leverage human and financial resources that are located in the Diaspora to strengthen the capacity, the entrepreneurial and business management, community development, youth empowerment/mobilization, and Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills in a number of inner-city communities.

CUSOInternational is an international development organization that works collaboratively with overseas partner organizations on locally and nationally managed projects. This is done through volunteers who work on long term solutions that will have an impact for generations to come.

“Our role in this project is providing recruitment for Jamaicans in the Diaspora to participate in the DYC project,” Mr. Perkins explained.

These volunteers, he said, are integrated with local partners, such as the JDI and communities that host the volunteers for four to six months. They seek to build the capacity of the host communities, so that the initiative is sustained and the young entrepreneurs benefit significantly.

Mr. Perkins  told JIS News that mentors for the project are successful mid-career professionals, academics, researchers, youth workers, social workers, and  persons who can add value to youth entrepreneurship in Jamaica. He also highlighted that there are four volunteers from the United States and Canada who are in Jamaica working with young entrepreneurs.

“These volunteers also spend time with the ultimate beneficiaries, the young entrepreneurs, helping them to develop their business plans and design marketing strategies; they inculcate leadership skills, help them to manipulate technology and provide them with social media,” he added.

The CUSO representative noted that maintaining the programme and the relationships developed between young entrepreneurs and mentors is also done through a cyber mentorship platform.

“After the volunteers’ four to six months have ended, that is where the mentorship process continues,” he explained.

The cyber mentorship platform is not limited to volunteers who were in Jamaica. CUSO recruits other professionals in the Jamaican Diaspora to connect more volunteers with young professionals. These volunteers are also screened.