Jamaican Government Provides $200 Million to Support Young Entrepreneurs

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Secondary and tertiary level graduates in Jamaica, interested in starting a business, can now access a $200 million loan facility made available by the Government under the Young Entrepreneurs Programme (YEP).

The programme targets students graduating this month. It will ensure that those who demonstrate strong entrepreneurial spirit and drive benefit from training and access financing for viable projects.

Speaking at Thurday’s (June 4) Think Tank session at the Jamaica Information Service(JIS), Kingston, General Manager of the Approved Financial Institutions (AFI) Relationship at the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Emmy Lewars, said that the programme will consolidate the dynamism and entrepreneurial skills of young Jamaicans.

Emmy Lewars
General Manager of the Approved Financial Institutions (AFI) Relationship at the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ)

She pointed out that the loan facility will be made available by the DBJ to microfinance organizations, such as JN Small Business Loans Limited, the Credit Union League, Nation Growth and Access Finance, to on-lend to students with viable business ideas.

Mrs. Lewars said that the fund would finance the development of micro business and farming enterprise, such as beauty salon services, retail and trading, light manufacturing, fish farming, livestock projects and agro-processing.

To be eligible, students must be recommended by their educational institutions; exhibit an interest in self-employment; and be willing to participate in a series of training seminars to be conducted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the HEART Trust/NTA, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority(RADA) and the 4-H Clubs.

Graduates are also required to prepare a business plan and conceptualize an idea that is technically and financially viable, as well as demonstrate an ability to repay the loan.

Highlighting the key process and elements of the programme, Mrs. Lewars stated that school leavers will be encouraged to attend one of 40 orientation sessions, which will be held at training facilities, islandwide, beginning June 17.

“Following this session, those interested will be invited to attend three-day workshops, which will be held, islandwide, to provide interactive training on business management and the preparation of business plans. Those who complete the three-day session, will receive additional support to finalise their business plan,” she outlined.

Young persons will then present their business plan to a micro finance institution of their choice for review. It is expected that 85 per cent of those presented, will be approved for a loan and will go on to receive extensive post loan support.

“We are anticipating that some 4,000 school leavers will attend these seminars and, of that amount, we are expecting to facilitate 1,750 to 2,000 of them,” Mrs. Lewars said.

Persons who are not selected would, at least, get the training and be able to improve on their business ideas, and could approach other micro finance and small business development institutions to access loans.

Each successful loan recipient may obtain up to $100,000, or four persons in a group could access $400,000. Interest rate will be set at 10 per cent for the life of the loan, with a 12-month repayment period for individual loans, including a maximum of six months moratorium on the principal payment.

Endorsing the programme, Manager of the Entrepreneurial Skills Development Unit at HEART Trust/NTA, Clive Grossett, pointed out that this initiative presented an opportunity for young persons to be gainfully engaged in an economic activity that can help them earn on their own, become their own person, develop their own character and add to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.

Interested persons are asked to provide names to the principals of the high schools or institution that they attend, or contact the Jamaica National Call Centres.

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