Five ‘blockpreneurs’ from Silver Hill were the first to sign licensing agreements and receive keys to their kiosks as part of the Government’s Building Blocks project.
At the signing and handing over ceremony at Green Hill, Silver Hill, Christ Church on Friday morning, Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Dwight Sutherland, encouraged the five – Randy Went, Corey Kellman, Davico Went-Weekes, Kimberley Allen and Matthew King – “to go out there and to take on the world, and do not settle for having a kiosk at Silver Hill”.
He said: “The Building Blocks Project initiative is about community empowerment and providing opportunities for young people to realise their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs, and I’m indeed happy to be here to be part of this historic occasion, whereby, you young people and you ‘blockpreneurs’ feel empowered and feel as if you have a stake in the economic transformation of the building of this country.”
Giving the rationale for Government empowering men and women in blocks across the country, Sutherland said Government recognised that blocks had something to offer Barbados and many ideas came out of them.
“This is an example of how when you decide to tap into those ideas and endeavours of Barbadians that sit on a block, as a result of high unemployment levels in the country,” Sutherland said. “This is what comes out of those interventions.”
He highlighted that Government’s intention was to provide an enabling environment through the Building Blocks Project and other future projects to give the ordinary Barbadian the opportunity to build back strong communities and family businesses, and help to address some of the social issues that plague these areas.
Sutherland declared: “The sky is your limit; the world belongs to you. You need now to take this opportunity and not only stay small, but grow your businesses on a scale. But don’t grow selfishly, bring along people with you.
“I want you to form a cluster among you, so that you help each other, so that you give each other ideas and you lift up each other’s business, that at the end of the day, five years from now, you can look on and you can be mentors to those coming behind you, because this pilot project, we [Government] intend to build out other ‘blockpreneurs’ in this country.”
In its first phase, the project is operating at four sites – Silver Hill, Christ Church, and Bonnets, Parkinson Field and The Ivy in St. Michael. Plans for phase two were already in motion, where Government had identified, and is seeking to acquire, lands throughout the country, as locations for future Building Blocks kiosks, Sutherland said.
Also present during the ceremony was Sutherland’s predecessor as Youth and Community Empowerment Minister, Adrian Forde, MP for Christ Church West Central, under whose ministerial tenure the project was initiated.
Forde told the entrepreneurs that the Building Blocks Project has afforded them that “once in a lifetime opportunity” to make a difference, to be able to support their families and to have a tangible state in Barbados.
Forde told the new kiosk owners: “Treat these kiosks, this facility as if it was your home, as if it was your bedroom, I want you to care it. The Government has invested in it and it is now who you are.
“So, I want you to continue to enjoy it, as you become the true businessman and entrepreneurs that you deserve to be in Barbados.” (BT/BGIS)