Small Business Minister, Dwight Sutherland (left) in conversation with Coordinator, Centre for Professional Development and Lifelong Learning, Dr. Dion Greenidge (centre) and Senior Director, Caribbean Regional Programme, Benoît-Pierre Laramée, at yesterday’s MOU signing at The University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, is making a plea for at-risk youth, especially males, to be given the necessary assistance to become entrepreneurs.

Addressing the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding between The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus and PitchIt Caribbean, he shared the view that entrepreneurship in the region must be bolstered through a renewed willingness to fully explore the potentialities of all available resources, inclusive of labour, technology, capital and intellectual capacity.

Stressing the need for the inclusion of young males in regional ventures, the Minister added: “In similar vein, room must be found to engage the ideas and innovations of our disadvantaged youth, including our males who are not wired to conform to the status quo, and who, if left unchecked, will use their creative energies for less than desired productive national outcomes.

“And, we continue to see that males are challenged in this country, and if you look around at what is happening today, it is not the female; it’s the males; hence my deliberate mention of the male.”

In welcoming the signing of the agreement, Mr. Sutherland also urged The UWI and others to mentor those young men, with the aid of the community, church, youth groups and elders, in developing soft skills to allow them not only to eke out a daily living, but to develop legitimate business enterprises.

He said: “I am in no way suggesting that these persons be brought on to campus in breach of admission policy, or into an unfamiliar environment where intimidation would render them incapable of survival.  I am not asking you to do that; rather as academics raised by the village yourself, like myself, it is my view that you have a national responsibility to give back to your own, and to develop these communities through relevant life-long interventions.”

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