The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport will be expanding its economic opportunities initiative to other indigenous groups across the island.
The programme, which is already benefitting entrepreneurs of communities within the Blue and John Crow Mountains World Heritage Site, will be extended to maroon communities in St. Elizabeth and Trelawny beginning in the 2018/19 financial year.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, said the initiative is part of the Government’s efforts to enable persons to tap into the business and income-generating potential within their communities in order to boost employment.
She was speaking at the presentation of $1 million in grant funding to entrepreneurs from Portland, St. Andrew and St. Thomas on March 9 at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) on Marcus Garvey Drive, St. Andrew.
The 20 recipients got $50,000 each to enhance their business operations in agriculture, craft, commodities, gastronomy and tourist attractions.
Ms. Grange said the Ministry is “proud to honour the promise we made to these entrepreneurs at the second staging of the Blue and John Crow Mountains economic opportunities workshop in St. Thomas in October 2017, to provide them with grant funding and business training.”
“The idea was to assist these small business operators of the 32 targeted communities. Rather than for them having to go out to seek such support, the Ministry has taken the support to them,” she noted.
She indicated that the Ministry will be working with the applicants “who did not qualify this time round for grants. We will be taking them through more training to bring them up to speed.”
Ms. Grange expressed appreciation to the JBDC and the Jamaica National Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI) for partnering with the Ministry to provide training for the grant recipients in basic money management and financial literacy.
The JBDC will provide follow-up training as well as monitor the progress of the various business ventures being undertaken by the recipients.
The first set of workshops under the economic opportunities initiative was staged in May 2016 and involved collaboration with several public and private sector entities.
The Blue and John Crow Mountains was inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List in July 2015.
The region, which spans sections of Portland, St. Andrew and St. Thomas, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, being home to the Maroons, whose traditions are recognised by UNESCO as masterpieces of world culture.
By: Douglas Mcintosh