Features — 03 March 2015 — by Rowland A. Parks
Institute of Sustainable Livelihood launches youth entrepreneurship project

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 26, 2015–The Youth Apprenticeship Program, in collaboration with the Institute of Sustainable Livelihood and some local businesses, launched a new project this afternoon to assist young people by providing tools for various crafts that would enable them to become self-employed.

Unamay Gordon, a Jamaican entrepreneur who founded the NGO Institute of Sustainable Livelihood, received a grant from the Australian government aid program to assist young people in Belize, and during the ceremony at the former Youth for the Future building on Youth for the Future Drive, Gordon explained that the program will provide 16 young persons in Belize with the basic tools and equipment they would need to engage in the mechanical, plumbing and electrical trades.

Gordon explained that the objective of the project is the emergence in the future of a company or a cooperative that could service the construction industry – particularly the growing housing sector.

“That is what the project is all about; to have this youth corps going, and eventually in the long term, a cooperative or a company which is owned by these young people will emerge. We will purchase the optimal level of tools and equipment and as they work and go out they can embellish what is there,” Gordon said.

Gordon went on to comment, “As I speak to the young people, I hope they will see this as an opportunity to move forward, to make a living for themselves and their family and to create more employment for the people of Belize. In March we will bring all of them together and we will train them to be entrepreneurs.”

“This is about real collective action and real service. I want to encourage Westrac and Habet and Habet and any other private sector company in Belize to see the merit so that we can move and go forward. We will find some young people in both in Belize City and in Cayo and we will train them in entrepreneurship,” Gordon said.

Dianne Finnegan, the Director of the Youth Apprenticeship program, said the program is for youth who have dropped out of school and are trying to find their way back into the community to become productive citizens.

Belize Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith said that a lot of youth appear in her court, and, she noted, “I do recognize the fact that you do need programs that can show young people that there is an alternative to crime and violence and gang warfare. The alternative is becoming your own boss, being in your own business, not waiting on government to give you a handout. I want you to grab the opportunity and take these tools and build on what can be your future.”

Smith said she would have liked to see a bit more tools for trades that have traditionally been carried out by women, like sewing machines and cooking pots, but, she conceded, “We have to start somewhere”.

Smith thanked the Australian government and people for making this possible for our young people.

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