EIGHT young entrepreneurs have received the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level. They were winners of special performance awards worth $20,000 each from energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT) as part of the graduation ceremony for participants of an entrepreneurial development training programme conducted by the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP).
The function, held at BPTT’s hospitality suite at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, recently, saw 62 young men and women from across Trinidad graduate after successfully completing an intensive five-day training workshop designed to put them on the road to operating their own businesses. The graduation ceremony for entrepreneurs from Tobago will take place in January.
“This programme has been exceptional. I don’t know if there is anything like it in the country. You get real insights into starting and operating your company and how to make it viable and sustainable. It seems like I was operating in the dark before I acquired important business insights from our tutors. Without BPTT’s partnership with YTEPP, we couldn’t have done it by ourselves. The training and this added capital will go a long way in growing the company,” said a beaming Jayden St. Hill, one of the eight lucky recipients of the $20,000 award.
St. Hill operates a cleaning company Jayden Trading Limited in Arima, manufacturing cleaning solutions.
The YTEPP-BPTT programme was launched in March, this year, with participants coming from four regional centres, Port of Spain, Arima, San Fernando and Central.
Minister of Education, Anthony Garcia, who delivered the feature address, said he was particularly delighted to see BPTT partnering with YTEPP on the entrepreneurial development programme. “The main rationale for developing public-private sector partnerships in education and training is to maximise the potential for expanding equitable access to training opportunities. The government can’t do it alone. I encourage you, YTEPP, to continue to build productive engagements with the private sector for the constant fuelling of the nation’s workforce. In this regard, we are deeply appreciative of this partnership with BPTT,” Garcia pointed out.
He lauded BPTT for also providing “seed money” to the top performers in the programme. “It is truly a demonstration of your company’s commitment to growing small-and-medium-sized enterprises which can serve as a driver in the economic landscape and a deed worth repeating by other private sector entities,” he noted.
Explaining that small-and-medium businesses remained a central pillar in his government’s development strategy for achieving sustained economic growth, the Education Minister urged the budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
Ronda Francis, Corporate Responsibility Manager, BPTT, who thanked YTEPP “for allowing BPTT to be part of this great initiative”, pointed out that BPTT recognised that it had an important role to play in developing entrepreneurial initiatives in the country in which it operated. She made mention of MIPED (Mayaro Initiative for Private Entrepreneurial Development) which offers low-interest loans to residents of Mayaro and environs to start their own businesses.
She pointed to the ability of young entrepreneurs and innovators to develop ideas into reality and into great enterprises, noting that entrepreneurs had risen to become prominent transformers of TT’s retail, manufacturing and entertainment industries. She cited the phenomenal success of Angostura Bitters which had achieved a global reach.
Francis called on the young entrepreneurs to make full use of the opportunity offered by the BPTT-YTEPP initiative to make a name for themselves in the wider business world.
Nigel Parris, chief executive officer, YTEPP, praised BPTT for having the confidence to recognise the organisation as a training entity that could deliver quality training with real results. “It is partnerships with corporate entities such as BPTT that allow us to expand our reach to individual and communities,” Parris pointed out.
Graduates receiving the $20,000 award were: Scharron Bain (Schae Design House); Michela Morris (LashMe TT); Kinesha Charleau (Haven Spaces); Jayden St. Hill (Jayden Trading); April Daniel (Mirror Me Accessories); Lauren Peters (Nuance Security & Solar Systems); Antoinette Dalton (Sweedie Pie bakery); and Mali Quamina (Mega Interior & Construction).
Judges who selected the eight top performers were Christo Cave, director, Entrepreneurial Development and Support Services, YTEPP; Jolie Francis, communications & external Affairs, BPTT; and Anisa Oliviel, director and vice-president, The Rose Foundation.
The judging criteria covered financial viability, management capability, growth potential, innovation, marketing and presentation.