By RON FANFAIR
Pierrette Paul ended up in foster care because her mother was financially unstable and her father started another family.
Now 21 and an aspiring fashion designer, Paul said that turbulent period in her life strengthened her resolve to prove she could be just as successful as young people raised in stable homes with their parents.
Last week, she was one of eight young people who successfully completed the Shouters Entrepreneur Skill Development program.
“My dad was there with his wife and his family and I was like the little girl that nobody cared about,” said Paul, who graduated from Notre Dame Secondary School in Brampton. “My mom has always been supportive of whatever I did but it was just a case of her not being able to provide for me because of unfortunate circumstances and that’s why I spent so much time in foster care.”
Paul intends to turn her passion for fashion into a thriving business now that she’s equipped with the business and life skills acquired through the federally-funded program.
“I had no idea about what a business plan was and how important it is to the success of your business,” she said. “This program has taught me that and gave me the confidence to explore opening my own business. It has also taught me to never give up and always keep trying.
“As a young girl, I loved playing with Barbie dolls and dressing them up in different outfits. I also had difficulty in finding clothes I like in stores. When I put the two together, I decided to start making clothes for curvy women.”
Like Paul, 23-year-old Joel Craigg is extremely happy he was introduced to the program.
“It gave me an insight into how to shape a business plan which is critical to make a business work and it also gave me a stronger sense of vision,” said the artist and musician who is a drummer with the Essence of Praise gospel choir. “All of the workshops and presenters were great and I am definitely leaving here much more informed and confident that when I started. I am ready to do business in a professional way.”
The other graduates were Christopher Osborne, Sanjay Chandrasegaran, Shukri Dualeh, Lionnel Mends, Charles James and Kevlaughn Small.
Dr. Delores Seivright, the founder and president of Shouters National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith (NESBF) Canada started the program at her religious organization to address the needs of young people.
“We have had many youths, some of whom have been involved in the criminal justice system and were looking for direction, pass through this program with flying colours,” she said. “The main aim of what we are doing here is to provide solutions to issues that are of concern to our community. In the world we live in today, understanding the changing dynamics of the job market is a necessity. However, many of our young people face uncertainty and many barriers in obtaining suitable employment. All they need is an opportunity and that is what we are giving them.”
Aimed at young people between the ages of 17 and 24, the project is designed for less-advantaged youth already committed to creating their own business who possess the basic skills to start a business. Youth selection is based on assessment and business ideas.