- Thousands of persons turned out for the staging of the inaugural Trench Town Trade and Investment Fair.
- The event showcased the creative skills of small entrepreneurs from the West Kingston community and other areas.
- The event featured some 39 booths with goods ranging from handicraft, textiles, food, jewellery, clothing, and footwear.
The expansive and picturesque grounds of Emancipation Park in New Kingston came alive with colour and excitement recently, as thousands of persons turned out for the staging of the inaugural Trench Town Trade and Investment Fair.
The event, which showcased the creative skills of small entrepreneurs from the West Kingston community and other areas, featured some 39 booths with goods ranging from handicraft, textiles, food, jewellery, clothing, and footwear.
Conceptualized and organized by the Agency for Inner-City Renewal (AIR), the exposition was aimed at creating meaningful economic opportunities for the exhibitors, most of whom hail from Trench Town.
Chairman of AIR, Dr. Henley Morgan, told JIS News that the fair is planned to become a national event.
“It’s not just a Trench Town thing or a Kingston thing, we’re reaching out to entrepreneurs across the entire island. This is not a one-off event, it will take about three to five years to fully build it out,” he stated.
Among the exhibitors was Dawn Bartley, owner and operator of Dawn’s Crochet along Spanish Town Road, which speclialises in men and women’s shoes, including sandals and slippers.
She said that participating in the trade fair was a “no-brainer” as it offered another platform to expose her craft.
Pauline Rickets, who crochets dresses, skirts and other clothing, said her participation in the trade fair was primarily to expose her work as she is convinced that it is of high quality.
Hyacinth Clunie, who makes dresses using a blend of crochet and fabric, was among the few exhibitors from outside of Trench Town. She told JIS News that she had travelled from Angel’s in St. Catherine to showcase her wares. She informed that a friend had told her about the fair and she opted to participate as it provided a great opportunity for exposing her small, fledging business.
Scheed Cole, a 3-D life-size sculptor, who has been operating his business in Trench Town for close to five years, said the event has created a well-needed opportunity for small inner-city entrepreneurs and is very welcome.
He said that over the years, he has personally trained over 20 persons from the community in art and sculpting.
“It’s a wonderful platform to showcase some of the wonderful things that we do. It creates the exposure of what the inner-city is, the raw unearthed talent that is here and the fact that good business models are here. It also works as an inspiration to the many fledging companies to let them see where they could go and the impact that is possible for them,” he told JIS News.
Mr. Cole is calling for more such opportunities for residents of inner-city communities across the island, noting that the residents all have skills training and employment needs.
One booth that had the attention of several youngsters was the makeshift studio mounted by the Jamaica Music Institute (JAMIN).
Executive Director of JAMIN, YeKengale, told JIS News the company is tasked with creating a music production hub and commercial zone in the community.
The first phase of that plan he said, has already begun in partnership with AVID, a leading music industry equipment manufacturer.
They have now embarked on a unique training programme, the JAMIN Engineer Apprenticeship Programme (JEAP), designed specifically for audio engineers from Trench Town, who would be certified and employed on a part-time basis.
This, he said, will also allow for a re-activation of some of the studios in Trench Town. Six persons received their certificates of graduation during the exposition.
“The task is to streamline and link these centres of production and make them a hub of music production. We’re starting an engineering school. We were able to offer this training free to the community because of a grant from CHASE (Fund) but when the school opens in January, you’ll have to pay. So we are saying, we’re ready for business,” he stated.
He said he has no doubt that the community will achieve the goal set, which is to see Trench Town become a major centre in a renewed downtown landscape.
The trade fair received support from the Ministries of Labour and Social Security, and Industry, Investment and Commerce; Tourism Enhancement fund (TEF); Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ); Community Renewal Fund (CRF); Jamaica Public Service Foundation; and First Heritage Credit Union, among other public and private sector entities.
Dr. Morgan said that the AIR will continue to work with its partners to open up inner-city communities, creating an environment, which will facilitate people, who are enterprising and productive, to be successful.