A wonderful example from Clarendon

Monday, July 23, 2018

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That the south-central parish of Clarendon is among Jamaica's more crime-prone regions is well known.

Like many other places in this country, Clarendon suffers from widespread unemployment especially among young people — many of whom are untrained, poorly educated and badly brought up.

And like everywhere else in Jamaica, Clarendon needs strong, dedicated and visionary leadership.

For the latter reason this newspaper feels compelled to join the applause for the Clarendon Municipal Corporation which has spearheaded the Clarendon Youth In Business training programme targeting young entrepreneurs.

We are told that since its launch in June 2016 dozens of budding entrepreneurs have received training through the programme. The Clarendon Municipal Corporation has reportedly partnered with a wide range of government agencies to deliver the programme. They include HEART Trust which we know trains hundreds of people annually; the Planning Institute of Jamaica; Ministry of Local Government; Business Entrepreneurial Empowerment Project; Jamaica Business Development Corporation, as well as private business enterprises such as commercial banks and retailers.

As explained by Mr Damion Young, local economic development officer of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, in 2016 the municipal corporation felt it had a responsibility to help provide hope for young people.

Small business, which has always been an avenue for ambitious Jamaicans, was seen as one way to channel the energy of young people away from crime and other negatives.

“… We recognised if we were going to play our role in Vision 2030, we (municipal corporation) had a moral and socio-economic opportunity and responsibility to design a programme that could impact youth in our parish,” said Mr Young.

It was with that in mind that the Clarendon Municipal Corporation, known then as the Clarendon Parish Council, came up with the idea of facilitating young business people through training. For, as Mr Young explained, many people in business have no knowledge of how to market their products, keep accounts and records, and follow basic business principles — all of which are crucial if a business is to sustainably grow.

Mr Young tells us that the municipal corporation and allied agencies set about designing a project which facilitated training in marketing, book keeping, finance management, and ways to improve products and services.

At the end of the training period — which started out at one month but which now extends to four months — small monetary grants go to graduates to assist in essentials such as the purchase of raw materials, tools and equipment.

We are touched by testimonials included in yesterday's Sunday Observer story — surely none more touching than that from glass maker Mr Jason Hinds. He tells us that while he knew his business was profitable, he had no idea to what extent until he learnt book keeping techniques during the training course.

Like Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, this newspaper hails this example of innovative leadership from the Clarendon Municipal Corporation. And, like the minister, we take note of the value of political continuity. The Clarendon Youth In Business Project started under the leadership of then May Pen Mayor Scean Barnswell of the People's National Party and has continued to prosper under current Mayor Winston Maragh of the Jamaica Labour Party.

We feel strongly that the Clarendon Youth In Business Project is worthy of emulation across this land.

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