by Tricia Simon
With Covid-19 we are faced with an existential threat, to our lives as we experience global widespread job loss, especially to the youth populous.
Economies have contracted like a vice grip due to our inability to move, work and play the core tenets of economic stimulation. The International Labour Organisation has stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in 114 million job losses in 2020. Further, $3.7 trillion has been lost in labour income.
The United Nations Inclusive Wealth Report 2018 concluded that education and good health contribute the most to create “wealth.” Unfortunately, Covid-19 affects both education and health. Gwen Hines, chief executive of Save the Children UK, said, “We already know that it is the poorest children who have suffered the most as a result of Covid-19 school closures. But sadly Covid-19 is just one of the factors putting education — and children’s lives today and tomorrow — under threat.” In Grenada, to a greater extent, our children are still able to be educated despite school closure. School books, internet services and devices were provided to low-income families by the Ministry of Education. At present, the teachers are able to teach our children due to the use of technology. Education of our Grenadian youth has continued despite our challenges attesting to the value we as a society place on education as a driver of societal development.
Fear not, there is hope for we as humans are endowed with the ability to be resilient and rise from the most difficult circumstances. Despite the loss of a job in the formal job sector we each as individuals need to be innovative and use this unfortunate circumstance to flex our entrepreneurial muscles. Entrepreneurship is defined as, “an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards.”
School-based programmes such as the Junior Achievement programme with its mandate to teach the core tenents of financial literacy and entrepreneurship are excellent. It is optional, but in my opinion, it should be mandatory as the lessons learnt are invaluable for personal and societal development. The Ministry of Youth Development has revamped the youth entrepreneurial programme now called, YUTBIZ. Their mandate is to stimulate entrepreneurial development in the youth sector. Make a call, check out Facebook, ask a friend for information. Grants and business loans are provided, educational material, guidance and mentorship all at easy disposal, all yuh have to do is get up and get.
Further, Ronald Theodore, the CEO of the statutory body Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC) which was created with a mandate to develop businesses within the tri-island state highlighted that at present, there is a specific focus towards youth-based businesses to create employment in the Covid-atmosphere. First, there is the General Entrepreneurial & Business Development Programme which includes; business name registration, company incorporation, business plan development, proposal writing, costing & pricing, financial projections, financial projections, grant financing, training on technical, business and entrepreneurial skills. Second, there is support under the Enterprise Business Development component of the Climate Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme (SAEP). Grants may be obtained from EC$2,688.20 to EC$80,646 either for individual or group projects.
Today, due to Covid-19 and the ensuing job losses there is a focus on entrepreneurial development within the youth sector by providing the necessary tools to start up a business in Grenada. The Ministry of Cooperatives can be easily accessed to start up a cooperative, so get a few like-minded individuals together as there is strength in numbers and start something. The Office of the Diaspora Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided the opportunity for local businesses to attend the Dubai Expo 2020 to highlight their manufacturing prowess.
After speaking to the General Manager, Mervyn Lord of the Grenada Development Bank you can rest assured that this is a good place to obtain financing for youth entrepreneurs with its primary mandate, “to assist in the economic development of Grenada by providing financial and technical assistance in the areas of Agriculture, Fisheries, Tourism, Industry, Housing, Small Business Development and Human Resource Development.” Currently, they offer 2 such programmes, first the Small Business Development Fund where small businesses are able to access funds of up to $40,000 with a favourable interest rate of 1%. Second, under the YUTBIZ programme the bank offers a loan limit of $25,000 with an interest rate of 3%. In addition, the Government of Grenada has collaborated with the bank by creating the “Small Business Development Fund” to assist small business and to create job opportunities in this precarious financial environment.
I think this generation of youth is the most blessed; you have easy access to the knowledge to be innovative, something all previous generations lacked. You are internet savvy and the internet is the nucleus of learning and development in our dynamic society. You, as an individual are the master of your own destiny and you get to choose your path.
As my grandmother used to say, frens go bring yuh go but dey doh brin yuh bak. Choose your friends wisely, surround yourself with positive, helpful, respectful and kind individuals, those who would lift you up as opposed to bring you down. Yes, dey go call yuh names, but wear those names as a badge of honour, peer pressure to do what is wrong is no honour. Imagine, as a youth if yuh get in trouble now who helping yuh, yuh fren and dem gone an dey doh wukin so is yuh parents who go pay de lawyer (an we ent cheap) and dey doh wukin now to stan yuh bail, so ah guess yuh go take de heat for yuhself. Imagine wid Covid-19 having to take ah jail, yuh crazy, no space up dey, e full.
Make your parents proud, help them by helping yourself. Create a business and in time your friends, hire them. Starting a business means that you too would be provided with employment.
There is an old adage which states, teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. So stat up ah small business nah. Use the endless tools at your disposal to build Grenada so we rise as one people, one nation. View Covid-19 as an opportunity to develop for no matter what, that too shall pass!! It is a wonderful opportunity, while everyone else is distracted about the rising numbers, be Covid-19 smart follow the protocols, put your head down and focus on a post Covid-19 society or even look within these times for an opportunity.
Tricia Simon is an Attorney-at-Law called to the bar in the State of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique and the Province of Ontario, Canada.
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