Imani graduates encouraged to take advantage of OPIC small business loans

Awardees of both the 2018 Imani graduates and National Youth Awards

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Over 600 complete on-the-job training under New Imani Programme
  • OPIC to invest millions of dollars in small business activities in the Caribbean
  • Young people encouraged to make use of opportunity to gain capital to start a business

Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell announced OPIC intention to make available start-up capital for small business development in Grenada. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is the United States government’s development finance institution that makes available capital to support medium and long-term investment. OPIC also advances the foreign policy of the United States and national security objectives.


The Prime Minister addressed over 600 young people who completed on-the-job training under the New Imani Programme — graduates batch 4 and 5 — during a ceremony on Thursday, 15 November at the Spice Basket.

He said the commitment was given following a visit of a delegation from the White House. “Today I was visited by an envoy from the White House together with the ambassador for the United States who came to inform me that the American government has decided through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to invest millions of dollars in small business activities in the Caribbean. This is very significant because we have never seen that initiative from the American government and people before.”


Dr Mitchell encouraged young people to make use of this opportunity to gain capital to start a business which will be made available through one of the local private sector banks. “What they are saying is that they are prepared to invest through one of the local private sector banks with government support to create small business activities, as much as $200,000 to $300,000 throughout the length and breadth of the country particularly in the areas of technology, energy and other various areas of activities.”

The graduation ceremony was held under the theme “Empowering our youth, shaping our community, protecting our future.”

Minister for Youth Development Kate Lewis underscored the need for government to continue to invest in youth development to ensure a sustainable future. “We have many issues facing our country and if we have to overcome them, we need to tap into the dynamism of our young people to help us solve the most pressing problems we are faced with.” The minister continued by saying that “are always looking to partner with young people because we need to hear their ideas and to harness their ideas as we progress into the future.”

Overall best female Performer – Xiomara Andall

Feature speaker Senator Judd Cadet offered some words of advice to new graduates on how to navigate through life’s challenges. “When the issues of national importance come to the fore always be quick and ready to have your say whether it by casting a ballot or attending a consultation, we cannot afford to let other people make decisions that will affect our future. Youth engagement is not just about providing economic empowerment opportunities such as the Imani, but it is about youth being actively involved and performing their civic responsibility.”

Following the distribution of certificates, Imani graduates who outperformed their peers in various categories were presented with awards for their accomplishment.

Overall best male performer – Leonard Briggs

The award for Overall Best Male Performer went to Leonard Briggs, while Xiomara Andall received the award for the Overall Best Female Performer. The award for Apprenticeship Training went to Ebony Wall while the award for Direct Skills Training went to Tahera Williams. Kimikka Banfield was presented with the award for Most Improved Trainee while the Rising Star Award was presented to Kelly George. The Small Business Award went to Sampson Charles, and Dishuna Gill received the award for Academic Excellence.

During the National Youth Awards, the Ministry of Youth Development, Sports, Culture and the Arts presented awards to several young people who are making a positive impact on society.

Zinzee Noel receiving the Prime Minister’s Award from Prime Minister Dr Mitchell

Most notably was Zinzee Noel who received the Prime Minister’s Award — from Prime Minister Dr Mitchell — for her involvement in securing 1,500 books from US charity organisation Dreams Come True. Noel, a recent graduate of the TA Marryshow Community College, was diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a congenital joint condition that causes deformities. Noel was among several individuals receiving awards in various categories including Education, Community Youth Group, Youth in Law Enforcement, Media, Nursing, ICT, and Law.

Recent students who sat both the CSEC and CAPE examinations were also awarded. Most notably was Fadia Fakhre, Roshaun Brian Lendore and Joselle Mercer for academic excellence in CSEC. Tereque Raeburn, Kiana Slocombe and Joshua Francis received awards for academic excellence in CAPE unit 1. Jason Phillip, Timara Bubb and Toya Ameda were awarded for academic excellence in CAPE unit 2. Male and Female Youth in sports went to Sherman Lewis and Kelsie Murrell respectively, while youth in Culture was presented to Jalon ‘Boyzie’ Olive. Tara Brizan coped the award for Youth in Agriculture. Denny Cronneit received the Youth Innovator Award.

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