The just-launched Community Entrepreneurship and Mentorship Programme of the St. James South Constituency Council, could well be a model for the rest of the island.
Director of Constituency Empowerment, Kirk Humphrey, said at the launch this morning that while there had been other programmes by other councils that might have dealt in some way with entrepreneurship, this was the first one to twin the concept with mentorship in such a way, showing it was carefully thought out and could be a platform for the island.
“The way the Constituency Councils programme is designed is that if you find a model that could be a best practice, you encourage the other councils to take a look at it. Entrepreneurship is one of the tenets of our programme and so far this one is looking to me like one of those that we can take forward and encourage other councils to get on board,” he stated.
Humphrey told media at the launch that while the Barbados education model encouraged children to go to school, leave with the qualifications to get a job, many did not, particularly in 2013 when the trend now is that school-leavers need higher education.
This was one of the reasons, he said, why the councils were focusing on creating opportunities for persons to find jobs for themselves through entrepreneurship.
“We have a number of persons leaving UWI with degrees that won’t have a chance to use them… I think, our focus for some reason might have shifted to quantity in a sense beyond quality and we need to produce a top class graduate from the university who is able to think creatively. But we also have a challenge at university because we are producing more graduates than our labour market can absorb. Again this is another role for entrepreneurship,” he said.
Humphrey had earlier stated that statistics of the latest poverty assessment survey had shown that poverty in the island currently stands at 19.3 per cent, a figure he said was transient and some of which could be attributed to the recession.
“What this revealed to us was that a number of persons were interested in starting their own business. Most Barbadians who find themselves going to Welfare Department and most other agencies under the Ministry of Social Care do not wish to go to the Welfare Department or the other agencies … most want to be self-sufficient.
“CALC [Country Assessment of Living Conditions] revealed to us that many Barbadians are interested in starting their own businesses, but we also know that the high risk propensity for starting your own business used to be about 70 per cent. Most small businesses fail in the first time out, most and for a person who lacks resources … it is likely that your business will also fail.”
One of the responsibilities of the councils, he added, was offering support to those wanting to start businesses, similar to what the St. James South Council was trying to do. (LB)