As the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat continues to work with Member States, as well as regional and international stakeholders to implement programmes aimed at improving citizen security, it is moving apace with initiatives to address recidivism and youth unemployment.
Two workshops with this purpose are currently being conducted in Kingston, Jamaica at the Medallion Hall. Their implementation results from a partnership among the CARICOM Secretariat, the Government of Jamaica’s Ministries of National Security and Education, Youth and Information and the European Union, with funding under a CARIFORUM–EU Crime and Security Programme.
Within the framework of the Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) initiative, one of the workshops targets Involuntary Returned Migrants, and young people out of the juvenile justice system. It is anticipated that the transference and use of new skills among this target population, will lead to reduced youth unemployment, drug abuse, and crime and violence in society.
The other workshop will see Youth Empowerment Officers and other youth leaders participating in a Training of Trainers Workshop. The skills they acquire in this session, should build their capacity to share creativity and business information. All of the participants will receive practical guidance to create and implement business ideas.
Expert and experienced national and regional facilitators are guiding the sessions to ensure that the participants develop effective communication, decision-making and conflict resolution skills, develop short-to-medium-term self-improvement plans and understand how to structure a simulated company with assigned personnel and a business plan.
According to the Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development within the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Hilary Brown, focus will be on “high energy engagement with young people.”
“They form themselves into companies, they come to the CEBO Bank to apply for a micro loan which they receive,” she said, after a successful pitch of their business ideas.
This practical approach to youth entrepreneurial skills training also involves the participants going out into field to market and sell a product or service. At the end of the exercises, they are allowed to keep the loan as well as the profits, which they can choose to use as start-up funds.
In an interview with the CARICOM Secretariat’s Communication Unit, Dr Brown noted that several success stories have emanated from the CEBO training programme. She said Member States including The Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis have integrated the model into their youth programmes and conducted follow-up workshops after being introduced to the CEBO model.
The CEBO Programme was developed in 2011 by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with a regional technical working group and was started in 2012 to engage, inspire and create entrepreneurial interest and action among young CARICOM nationals in and out of school.
Describing the programme as a “regional public good” for youth training from which all Member States can benefit, Dr Brown said two comprehensive manuals: Facilitators and Participants, have been significant outputs.
She said a partners meeting in each of the countries in this round of the CEBO programme, is an important component, against the recognition that young entrepreneurs need support from various actors including government and the private sector to be successful. Besides Jamaica, CEBO workshops are being conducted in Barbados, Belize, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
Since its inception, the CEBO Programme has been implemented in 13 countries. Apart from its traditional target population, this phase of its implementation is focusing on CARICOM nationals who have faced involuntary separation from other countries. This emphasis has resonance in the CARICOM Regional Crime Prevention Strategy which proposes actions to address the determinants of crime, including the re-integration of deportees.
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