Five ‘blockpreneurs’ from Silver Hill were the first to sign their kiosk licensing agreement and receive keys to their kiosks, as part of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment’s Building Blocks Project.
The signing and handing over ceremony took place at Green Hill, Silver Hill, Christ Church, yesterday.
Speaking during the event, Minister Dwight Sutherland stated: “The Building Blocks Project initiative is about community empowerment and providing opportunities for young people to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, and I’m indeed happy to be here to be part of this historic occasion, whereby, you young people and you ‘blockpreneurs’ feel empowered and feel as if you have a stake in the economic transformation or the building of this country.”
Giving the rationale for Government empowering blocks across the country, Mr. Sutherland pointed out that Government recognised that blocks had something to offer Barbados, and many ideas came out of them.
“This is an example of how when you decide to tap into those ideas and endeavours of Barbadians that sit on a block, as a result of high unemployment levels in the country, this is what comes out of those interventions,” Mr. Sutherland said.
In addition, he highlighted that Government’s intention was to provide an enabling environment through the Building Blocks Project and other projects that would be rolled out in the near future, which would give the ordinary Barbadian the opportunity to build back strong communities and family businesses, and help to address some of the social issues that plague these areas.
The Minister encouraged the five ‘blockpreneurs’ “to go out there and to take on the world, and do not settle for having a kiosk at Silver Hill”.
“The sky is your limit; the world belongs to you. You need now to take this opportunity and not only stay small, but grow your businesses on a scale. But don’t grow selfishly, bring along people with you.
“I want you to form a cluster among you, so that you help each other, so that you give each other ideas and you lift up each other’s business, that at the end of the day, five years from now, you can look on and you can be mentors to those coming behind you, because this pilot project, we [Government] intend to build out other ‘blockpreneurs’ in this country,” he urged.
He also noted that the project, in its first phase, had identified four sites – Silver Hill, Christ Church, and Bonnets, Parkinson Field and The Ivy in St. Michael.
He said plans for phase two were already in motion, where Government had identified, and is seeking to acquire, lands throughout the country, as locations for future Building Blocks kiosks.
Also present during the ceremony was former Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment and Member of Parliament for Christ Church West Central, Adrian Forde, under whom the project was initiated.
He told Randy Went, Corey Kellman, Davico Went-Weekes, Kimberley Allen and Matthew King that the Building Blocks Project has afforded them that “once in a lifetime opportunity” to make a difference, to be able to support their families and to have a tangible stake in Barbados.
Minister Forde advised the new kiosk owners to “treat these kiosks, this facility as if it was your home, as if it was your bedroom, I want you to care it. The Government has invested in it and it is now who you are. So, I want you to continue to enjoy it, as you become the true businessman and entrepreneurs that you deserve to be in Barbados”.