By Barbara Ellington
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – A group of budding entrepreneurs are being advised to look to get their goods and services into the export market to create wealth for themselves and the country.
“Export if you want to be rich and make Jamaica rich in the process,” said minister of industry, investment and commerce, Senator Aubyn Hill. He was addressing the 24 graduates of the Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative’s (CJSDI) youth entrepreneurship training programme at Mandeville’s Golf View Hotel on Thursday, October 13.
Senator Hill said that the world’s five richest countries have small populations “but they export tremendously”.
Noting that Jamaica has three million people with per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $5,000, he argued that the country needs to “export to rich people a whole lot more than we do now, so that we too, can become rich.”
He encouraged the budding entrepreneurs to immediately begin talking to organisations like the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) to find out how to get into the export market.
“In 2021, we imported US$5.975 billion worth of goods and exported US$1.441 billion so we were short by (about) US$4.6 billion and that’s where we have to begin to catch up. You see how much responsibility is on your shoulders and on all our shoulders? If we breathe, we must export it,” Hill noted.
The future businesswomen and men received intensive training in several areas of production including clothing, entertainment, catering, farming, livestock and poultry, natural juices, scented candles and food processing. They ranged in age from late teens to mid-30s.
The training was conducted by the HEART NSTA/ Trust through sponsorship from Barita Foundation, and support from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Companies Office of Jamaica, Tax Administration Jamaica, the Social Development Commission, among others.
Managing director of the CJSDI, Damion Young, said that the training equipped the youngsters to take advantage of opportunities, particularly coming out of the pandemic.
He informed that the Barita Foundation provided $5 million, which went towards enhancing the programme and supporting the trainees with inputs such as tools and equipment.
Young noted that the graduates are the second cohort under the initiative, which aims to provide young people with the technical know-how to start businesses which are productive, resilient and profitable, and to steer them away from crime.
“It serves to empower the youth to believe in themselves so they can excel and confidently seize their place in the world, thereby making a difference. The training also seeks to expose them to best practices and sharpen and refine their analytical skills, enabling them to make sound decisions that can ensure profitability on their way to success,” Young said.
In her remarks, regional director of the HEART NSTA/Trust, Elain Holloway, commended the graduates for remaining resilient through the training despite some initial challenges, noting that this is a key quality for entrepreneurs.
“You are one step closer to achieving your goals. So many of you have been able to complete your National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQJ) Level II Job Certification as micro-entrepreneurs.
“Some of you are either applicants or have received grants that will help you start up or advance your business. I am happy that you made good use of the opportunities that were presented to you,” Holloway said.