Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is urging young people to recognise and seize business opportunities to turn their dreams into reality.
She was addressing the closing ceremony for the Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) Youth Training workshop, developed by the CARICOM Secretariat, held on October 8 at the Ministry's New Kingston office.
She said that the Ministry can provide the necessary skills that young people can use to develop their talent but they must have the confidence to recognise what is possible.
"I don't buy the notion that nothing 'naaa gwaan', or 'is just so the system set'. There is nothing easy about achieving success. It takes work. It takes beating down the odds… You have to seize opportunities when they come," the Minister stated.
"There is no amount of legislation, there is no amount of money, there is no amount of nice clothes or a good address that will put you in a position if you don't have that drive and that ambition to want to get there. We can’t give that to you. You have to want it for yourselves," she added.
Approximately 25 young people benefitted from the five-day workshop aimed at equipping them with values and attitudes as well as entrepreneurial skills to create and manage successful businesses.
During the workshop, the young people were divided into groups and given small loans equivalent of US$25 each to start a simulated business. They were taught how to make a business plan and certain key concepts to operate a successful venture. They were also mentored by successful business persons such as the owner of Patwa Apparel, Heneka Watkis-Porter, and Treacha McCalla, winner of the Nationwide Scotia Bank Entrepreneurship Challenge.
In every case, the youngsters were able to repay the loan and make a profit, in some instances in excess of 100 per cent.
The businesses included a bakery, a graphics company, a cosmetology and an entertainment company, with names such as: Grafixpro Ltd., Pink Panther Bakery, AD Limited, and Extra Entertainment.
Minister Hanna encouraged them to take their innovative ideas and business initiatives to the next level.
Deputy Programme Manager, CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Heather Johnson, described the CEBO workshop as something new and innovative. She noted that the Jamaican experience, which was the first of a pilot project, had surpassed expectations.
"Jamaica is the first… I had no doubts. I knew Jamaica was going to be good, because I know Jamaicans and I know Jamaican young people, and I had no doubts and I have not been disappointed," she said.
She noted that by the end of the five days, there was a marked difference in the young people, which was manifested in increased confidence and their use of business terminology.
CEBO is part of a regional programme, which is targeted at young people 15 to 29 years old. Jamaica is the first country to benefit under the initiative, which will also be implemented in Dominica, the Bahamas, St Kitts and Nevis, and Belize.
CEBO was developed after research conducted by the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development in 2010, revealed that the major concerns facing young people across the region were crime and violence. Out of the report, the CARICOM Heads of Government identified youth entrepreneurship development as a regional priority for countering high unemployment levels, and reducing crime and violence and drug abuse among young people.
The local training programme was conducted with support from the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Ministry of Youth and Culture, Institute of Law and Economics, and the Eastern Peace Centre of the Dispute Resolution Foundation.