(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The CARICOM Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) entrepreneurship workshop struck a high point on Thursday, when four teams comprising 25 trainees presented their business plans and received their start-up capital for a business venture they will implement in the next two days.
The 25 trainees, ages 17- 21, have been engaged in a number of simulation exercises since Tuesday as part of their training, which is intended to equip them with entrepreneurial skills and motivate them to becoming young entrepreneurs. The project was designed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, to engage, motivate and inspire entrepreneurial interest and action among young people 15 to 29 years old. It emphasizes creativity and teamwork and is delivered through hands-on, interactive youth friendly methodologies.
As part of the requirements for successful completion of the training, these young people forged partnerships with peers who had similar business ideas; worked together to develop those ideas into a solid workable business plans; then presented the plans to a team of CARICOM Secretariat Staff and trainers who assumed the role of a funding agency for small business enterprises, in order to secure loans to start the business.
Led by a Chief Executive Officer, each team, in presenting the plans, faced rigorous scrutiny from the Credit Managers, 25 year-old Lincoln Flowers and Loan Officers, Drs. Hilary Brown, Heather Johnson and Ian Richards. Team A dubbed their venture After Hours and presented the idea of a soup kitchen located near a night club; their clientele will be patrons of the night club. Team B called their business Sweets and Treats, with an intention to sell smoothies and pastries at a strategic location in Belize City. Team C named their innovative venture Style and Swagger with the intention of selling customized T-shirts for teens and Team D – Style Gone While – harnessed a range of skills in the group and decided to open their own beauty salon.
In the end, the teams demonstrated that not only did they believe in their product, but they had learnt enough to be able to convince bankers that their small business ventures were viable…And yes, they received real genuine cash to procure the raw materials to implement those business plans. This part of the training was by no means role play.
On Saturday afternoon they will return to the workshop venue to evaluate the outcomes, present their profits and repay their loans before receiving their certificate of successful completion of the course.
Dr Heather Johnson, CARICOM Secretariat Deputy Programme Manager, Youth Development expressed great satisfaction with the training so far. In her opinion the young people were strategic in their ideas and had demonstrated a high level of maturity in working together to transform those ideas into positive action. She had every confidence that several of the participants had the necessary acumen to be able to “seize and push through a business opportunity.”
“In a nutshell… CEBO provides young people with an opportunity and a success experience – not all of them will go on to establish a business, but they will all become better employees and more productive individuals,” Dr Johnson added.
Speaking on behalf of her group, 18 year-old Tori Kelly who assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer, Sweets and Treats, said she had always wanted to go into her own business and the training made her more determined to pursue this dream. Meanwhile, 17 year-old Jared Cunningham said the training so far had helped to boost his confidence and build his self-esteem. “It can change our lives and keep us off the streets and out of trouble…,” he concluded.
The CEBO training, designed for young people is delivered largely by young people under the watchful eye of business mentors. It is aided by a user friendly CEBO Manual which was developed by a broad based CARICOM Secretariat appointed Regional Technical Working Group comprising representatives from the field of entrepreneurial development, CARICOM Youth Ambassadors and faith and community-based organizations.
The manual is informed by the research findings of the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development, the Barbados Youth Business Trust’s (BYBT) At-Risk Entrepreneurial Youth Business Labs Training Manual and other regional and international materials.