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Thursday 21 November 2019
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Fighting crime with young entrepreneurs

Business Day Editorial

Sajjad Hamid, a representative of COSTAATT The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) speaks to participants during the National Crime Prevention Programme Fundamental Tools For Entrepreneurs Workship at the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Saturday November 2, 2019. - CHEQUANA WHEELER
Sajjad Hamid, a representative of COSTAATT The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) speaks to participants during the National Crime Prevention Programme Fundamental Tools For Entrepreneurs Workship at the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce on Saturday November 2, 2019. - CHEQUANA WHEELER

We welcome the initiative, launched a few days ago by the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of National Security’s National Crime Prevention Programme (NCPP), which aims to give young business owners the tools they need to develop. Such a programme has the potential to make a meaningful difference by creating a platform for entrepreneurship that can help youths stay away from crime, while also building on the enterprise and innovation needed for a diversified economy. It’s an initiative that should be emulated.

“We believe if you give persons the skills necessary to set up their own businesses that in itself is a prevention measure,” said Cheryl St Louis-Felix, manager of the NCPP.

The series of workshops, for business owners between 18 and 35, deals with understanding business and designing a business plan for the future. Thirty entrepreneurs registered for it.

Parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of National Security Glenda Jennings-Smith said businesses in Central are facing rapid growth and many challenges, which include the problem of crime.

“I call on the other chambers of commerce to be part of this initiative of the National Crime Prevention Programme so that young persons from other areas in TT can be mentored by the chamber into growing and protecting their businesses,” she said.

When we think crime prevention, we tend to think in terms of the interdiction of illegal firearms or community policing measures by police officers. Rarely, however, do we examine the ways the business community plays a pivotal role in identifying the vulnerable and in fostering talent.

According to a 2013 paper published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship, a key aspect of the operation of criminal gangs is how these units organise around business-like models.

“This invariably leaves a significant gap for youth with no income, increasing unemployment and rising poverty,” the authors of the paper observed.

We have long known there is a link between unemployment and crime. What’s different about the idea of using entrepreneurship as an anti-crime measure is how it encourages the development of community networks and relationships between entrepreneurs, their customers, and employers. Business development allows people to become self-sufficient. And while every business starts small, over time it can development enduring relationships in the market. It’s not just about making money.

It’s about getting people to see they too have a stake in a peaceful, crime-free society. It’s also about unlocking leadership potential.

In this vein, we also welcome the programme of activities of the NCPP, which has been actively campaigning all over the country to engage with youth. These measures are important as the short-term strategies used to intercept criminal activity.

The business community has a role to play in making its own efforts at engagement more formal. Many businesses already give back to their communities and forge relationships that lead to fruitful synergies. What’s needed is a coming together to encourage budding entrepreneurs more strategically.

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