KINGSTON: The Government of Jamaica has doubled its allocation of grants available to entrepreneurs through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s Steps-to-Work program.
The ministry now has JAM$42 million available in entrepreneurial grants this year to disburse in assisting people across the country to establish small businesses.
This amount represents a 100 per cent increase over last year’s allocation, and will see participants in Program of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) households, who are engaged in the Steps-to-Work project, receiving up to JAM$100,000.00 in grant funding.
While recently addressing participants at the closing ceremony of the PATH/Steps-to-Work program at Cambridge High School, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Derrick Kellier, said that investing in a person’s education and improving their skills are sure ways of improving productivity.
“Providing training and educational opportunities for the unemployed to re-skill and up-skill will enhance their chances of securing employment,” said Kellier. “It is also crucial if we expect to improve the productivity culture in Jamaica as a priority strategy for growth and development.”
Kellier said the Ministry, in keeping with that objective, has plans to increase the number of beneficiaries under the Steps-to-Work program by an additional 2,000, in addition to the over 4,000 already making use of referral services.
Citing the visible successes in the entrepreneurial grant funded projects, Kellier said several projects established last year are still operating and providing employment for young people in need.
“Reports received indicate that of the total number awarded, 60 per cent are still in business after six months and approximately 45 per cent are making profits and contributing to the overall household income,” said Kellier. “It is interesting to note that some of these persons were able to employ others.”
Kellier also called on all Jamaicans to be more supportive of the nation’s youth, as they are the “hope for the future”.
“Let us prepare and empower our youth to be an important part of this glorious future. I congratulate our graduating campers and wish them every success in their endeavours. I charge them to take full responsibility for their future prospects, by focusing on the positives from this summer experience,” added Kellier.