The entrepreneurial flame has been ignited in several young people who participated in the Creativity Employment Business Opportunity (CEBO). From producing healthy “suckabubbies” to custom-made durags, participants put their all into creating businesses from virtually nothing.
At the recently held closing ceremony for CEBO, Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde, along with Director of the Human Development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Helen Royer, met participants face-to-face and got the opportunity to sample and purchase their products and services.
The initiative, organized by the CARICOM Secretariat, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, aimed to spark entrepreneurial interest and stimulate economic resilience among young people, as a means of combatting youth unemployment, drug use, crime and violence.
Participants were exposed to the fundamentals of starting a business, the importance of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, creating a business plan, marketing, public speaking, self-exploration, and critical thinking and other skills.
During the one-week intensive workshop, the young men and women in CEBO were challenged to put what they learnt to the test. They were split into groups and loaned seed capital to start a business with little resources.
Zaria Thelius, a representative of Halo Beauty, said she and her group members opted to take advantage of their vocational skills.
“We were told to look at what we were interested in, and at our talents as a group. One member is a seamstress and some other persons like interior decorating, so we got stuck with head wear as an idea, that’s how we came up with Halo Beauty,” she explained.
Seamstress of the group, Shanna Boyce, said they bought fabric with attractive colours and patterns to produce a headgear line of reversible satin bonnets and bantu knot turbans for ladies, as well as velvet and satin durags for men. And, with items strategically priced between $5.00 and $25.00, the response was “outrageous”. In fact, Minister Forde was one of their customers.
“It was a success, so many people wanted orders. There was a rush, and everything went so fast. We got sales plus orders which we now have to fill outside of the programme,” she said.
Shanna had nothing but praised for CEBO, although she did admit initially she didn’t want to participate. “When I first came I wasn’t into it but then the Workshop Facilitator, Sherwin Bridgewaters, got us involved in activities. It was very informative, very educational, fun, interesting and I would definitely recommend it to anyone,” she said.
Another group, comprising Heavenly Griffith, Teixeira O’Donnell-Cadogan, Liam Parris-Bowen, Keemo Baird and Keemo Agard, produced a line of natural juices and “suckabubbies” under the brand, N-fuzed.
Spokesperson for the group, Heavenly Griffith recalled: “We decided we were doing natural and local to support Bajan and to get away from unhealthy dyes and artificial flavours. Nothing here has been sourced from a can or concentrate, everything was done by hand.”
Flavours included golden apple, golden apple & ginger, sorrel, coconut, soursop, sorrel and rum, and soursop-banana infused with rum. Their frozen treats were a hit with adults and children.
“We had two days of sale and we did pretty well. We had great feedback from people who encouraged us to continue after the programme,” Heavenly said, adding that she thoroughly enjoyed CEBO.
Minister Forde was very impressed with the frozen treats. “I will certainly inform those in the education sector that there is a natural way of giving kids these local snacks without the dyes and the simple syrups that are destroying children’s health,” he said.
The officials also visited the other business exhibits, which included an All Natural Shake line, a relaxation station that offered hand and shoulder massages, and one which sold fish cake batter.
Ms. Royer said: “From all reports, the training showcased a wide variety of diversity and innovation among the youth.”
She was pleased with the overwhelming response and commitment from the 52 participants, and encouraged them to broaden their scope and to see how following their dreams would not only benefit them, but their communities and country.
“To be successful in business, you must be innovative and be willing to devote yourself fully and wholeheartedly to making your business a reality. You can help build yourself economically if you continue what you started here. You can also build social resilience to curb the efforts of crime and violence and other social ills. You must be willing to bounce back every time life throws you down,” Ms. Royer advised the youngsters.
Stressing that CEBO was a “life changing opportunity for youth,” Ms. Royer said the programme demonstrates the importance that CARICOM places on regional youth.
CEBO was established by the CARICOM Secretariat after the Declaration for the Future of Youth was issued by Heads of Government in 2010. The programme is conducted in seven regional countries.
The training in Barbados was made possible through the interagency collaboration among CARICOM, CARIFORUM and the Ministry of Youth, with funding from the European Union.