CJSDI steering young people into entrepreneurship

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Business, political and civic leaders have lauded the Central Jamaica Social Development Initiative (CJSDI) as an entrepreneurial boost for young people in steering them away from criminality.

Speaking at a recent graduation ceremony held at Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, CJSDI director Damion Young said the initiative was started last year to create a safety net and alternatives for young people in rural Jamaica.

“The mission of this youth entrepreneurship training programme was very clear. We needed to provide our youth with the technical know-how to start businesses, and not just any business, but businesses that were resilient, productive, and able to make them wealthy, so they will always have an alternative to negatives such as lottery scamming, extortion, idleness, and other criminality,” he said.

Twenty-four young people were trained in areas including entertainment, farming, livestock, natural juices, poultry, food processing, and clothing over a three-month period.

Custos of Manchester Garfield Green commended Young for the entrepreneurial initiative.

“I want to acknowledge and commend Damion Young, who heads CJSDI. His organisation is one of the many groups that seek to empower our youth and help them become valuable citizens, which is what this country needs right now,” said Green.

“This country is plagued with donmanship, cronyism, lawlessness and disorder, crime and violence, but here we have some young people who have decided to educate themselves and be equipped with the right tools to build prosperity through entrepreneurship,” added Green.

Young, a member of the Jamaica Labour Party, who contested the Manchester North Western constituency in the September 3, 2020 General Election, said CJSDI provided an alternative for young people.

“For young people who would have been facing the brunt of the debacles of the COVID-19 pandemic, we initiated a training programme incorporating several agencies who we believe could have [given] strategic support and strong partnership to the programme,” he said.

“The programme was conceptualised recognising that young people were struggling in many instances to make ends meet and we wanted to assist especially rural youth who many times are left out of mainstream development, as opposed to their urban counterparts… We seek to provide a coordinated effort to reach youth who would have not otherwise known about some of the myriad opportunities available to them. This is our second such cohort,” he added.

The initiative was supported by HEART NSTA/ Trust through sponsorship from Barita Foundation. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Companies Office of Jamaica, Tax Administration Jamaica, and the Social Development Commission were among agencies involved in the initiative.

Young expressed thanks to the Barita Foundation for funding the initiative.

“The partnership with Barita saw an investment of roughly $5 million, which should enhance the experience as well as support the trainees with input, tools and equipment,” he said.

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Senator Aubyn Hill, in delivering the keynote address, commended Young for the initiative benefiting young people.

“Jamaican youth account for approximately 33 per cent of the population and it is always gratifying to see other young people get involved in the business of preparation for the kind of growth and development that our nation can and must achieve,” he said.

Hill said it is “inseparably important that the private sector be involved in the training of young”, whose skills can become exportable.

“The certificates of entrepreneurship and agro-processing you have received are directly aligned with the Government’s strategic focus on economic growth, food security, and diversity in the local productive sector. We must produce more,” he said.

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