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YWOP seeks funding for women entrepreneurs

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YWOP seeks funding for women entrepreneurs

BY Alicia Sutherland
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 25, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Manchester non-government organisation Young Women of Purpose (YWOP) is seeking to raise at least $750,000 in funding to assist 10 women who have an interest in building their own businesses.

The women were part of a group of 20 who recently participated in intensive entrepreneurship training, which included field trips.

Nikesha Lowe, project manager for the REAP (Realise Embrace Achieve your Purpose) Project, done by YWOP and through which the training was conceptualised, said the topics covered included developing an entrepreneurial mindset, managing a business, financial management, business modelling and pitching, funding, marketing, taxation and intellectual property.

A pitch competition was held for the cohort of 20 young women and an expert panel of judges selected 10 to receive grants of $75,000 each to start or grow their businesses.

Lanisia Rhoden, founder of YWOP, told the Jamaica Observer Central that her organisation is now on a quest to assist the other 10 participants to also embark on a similar course with the same individual amount in funding.

She said they are being assisted to apply to organisations, such as the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, that provide grants for entrepreneurs.

The entire REAP project, made possible by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, was done over a four-month period, starting last November and ending in February.

It culminated with a youth entrepreneurship conference at Mandeville Hotel, which was open to both males and females.

Approximately 180 participants took part in the inaugural conference.

Kevin Langley, president and co-founder of the United States-based Entrepreneurs Across Borders who was guest speaker at the conference, told the gathering that it was up to each aspiring entrepreneur to figure out how to “put a ding in the universe”.

Clarity of purpose and a willingness to make use of possibilities through networking were important, he said.

“Celebrate the step that you are at. No matter how bad it is there are always seeds of opportunity,” Langley said.

He urged the participants to see themselves as mentors and share information with each other regardless of their age.

Local entrepreneurs in different fields were also given a platform to share with the group through a panel discussion and breakout sessions.

Kevin Gilhooly, from the Canadian High Commission, noted that YWOP had benefited previously from support through the Canadian Government. His country was pleased to help organisations such as YWOP, he said.

The REAP project targeted women in central Jamaica who were victims of different forms of abuse, have experienced teen pregnancy or who are unemployed.

In addition to the preparation the women received for their entrepreneurial journey, a stipend was given to cover the cost of transportation. Lunch was also provided on the days they came out for training.

Participants will also have mentors who will continue to assist them as needed, to develop successful businesses, organisers say.

YWOP also has a component that assists males, referred to as Young Men of Purpose (YMOP).

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