CEBO Closing Group
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
November 11, 2012 (SKNIS)
The recently concluded Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) entrepreneurship training in St. Kitts, has been hailed a success as a number of benchmarks were achieved for the regional pilot programme.
Persons drawn from the target community of Sandy Point were joined by students from the vocational institution, Project Strong, for the November 05 to 09 training held at the community center. The thirty participants embraced the basic concepts of business planning and formation, and were busy serving the public on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The products ranged from fresh local juices and patties, graphic design services such as logo and gift card creations and t-shirt printing, and creative hair and nail designs.
Five companies were formed during the training; Tropical Fresh, Fantasy Hair and Nail Salon, LockOff, Sunshine Pastries and Local Drinks, and Explosion Arts. Several hundred dollars in start-up capital were loaned to each group from the (fictional) Bank of CEBO. The funds, provided by the CARICOM Secretariat, were presented by its Programme Manager for Youth and Community Development, Dr. Hilary Brown. CARISEC produced the CEBO manual, in partnership with several agencies including the St. Kitts Department of Youth, to allow young people across the Region to become empowered through entrepreneurship and reduce high incidences of youth unemployment.
At the closing ceremony on Friday evening, four of the five companies reported healthy profit margins while the fifth made a slight loss. Additionally, the management of Tropical Fresh reported that they will stay in business, offering products to benefit Project Strong. Explosion Arts also made a firm commitment to do so as they gained clients – during the practical exercise – who were impressed with their service and contracted the company for a number of short-term projects.
During the presentation of financial statements, the respective CEO’s expressed gratitude for the experiences they gained. While addressing Senior Youth Officer Pierre Liburd, Sunshine’s CEO Omar Dindial said “thank you very much and I appreciate everything you have done for each one of us here.” He encouraged fellow participants to share what they learnt with others.
Similarly, LockOff’s CEO Dujon “DC” Ceasar gave an impromptu performance, serenading the group with an original tune called “Awakening” which encourages listeners to recognize and seize opportunities around them.
Dr. Brown described the five-day CEBO workshop in Sandy Point as “intense and exciting” and credited the participants for “making St. Kitts and Nevis and the Region proud.”
“I think what was important about it was that it demonstrated first hand something that we often say but don’t put into practice enough,” Dr. Brown stressed. “That is if we invest in our young people, we show that we have confidence in you, if we give you the tools to succeed you will take that challenge and go out and succeed and you showed that this week.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Youth Empowerment, Curt Lewis, emphasized Government’s commitment to promote youth entrepreneurship noting that it is viewed as a critical developmental tool by Prime Minister the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas.
“If you go into business thinking it’s about money or it is about yourself then you are doomed to fail,” he cautioned the young people. “Business is about processes, it’s about people, it’s about planning, and it’s about relationships.”
Mr. Lewis suggested that entrepreneurs that are creative do not focus on money but on the gaps in society and how they can be filled. “It is then you will get the vision, that understanding … and basically begin to plan your way towards the future that you desire.”
The CEBO training moves to Nevis this week. Twenty seven persons have signed up for the workshop which begins on Monday (tomorrow) at the Cotton Ground Community Center.
CEBO is being piloted in five CARICOM member states. Jamaica, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis have completed their training. Dominica and the Bahamas are scheduled to do so in the coming weeks. Support for the project has been provided by the Government of Japan, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Barbados Youth Business Trust.