Smith bak­ing a name for her­self

Jamaica Gleaner - - GROWTH & JOBS -

AT 19, Abi­gail Smith is a proud en­tre­pre­neur.

The soft-spo­ken stu­dent at the Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Ja­maica (UTech), who has al­ready helped to start three busi­nesses through the Ju­nior Achieve­ment Com­pany of En­trepreneurs (JACE) Pro­gramme, is now de­vel­op­ing her own com­pany. Along with her 17-year-old sis­ter, Zoe, who at­tends the Ja­maica The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, she is de­vel­op­ing Pizazz Party Plan­ners.

“Our pi­lot project from last year has been ‘Cup­cakes by Pizazz!’,” Smith shared. “Now our goal is to even­tu­ally be­come a full-fledged event­plan­ning com­pany, cater­ing to func­tions, but we started with a prod­uct for which there is a de­mand and which we can sup­ply.”

While a stu­dent at St Hugh’s High School, she at­tended a Ju­nior Achieve­ment Ja­maica (JAJ) sem­i­nar about start­ing a busi­ness and saw the op­por­tu­nity to of­fer a prod­uct to fel­low stu­dents. She regis­tered her busi­ness in Fe­bru­ary of 2015.

Pizazz Party Plan­ners is still in its fledg­ling stage; how­ever, she said the out­look was pos­i­tive as “we started out at St Hugh’s, with men­tor­ing from JN Fund Man­agers, and were very

suc­cess­ful. Now, we are work­ing hard to ex­pand into new mar­kets.”

Both sis­ters have food han­dler’s per­mits and suc­cess­fully com­pleted their Caribbean Advanced Pro­fi­ciency Ex­am­i­na­tion cour­ses in food and nu­tri­tion. And Smith, who has just started the Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Hospi­tal­ity & Tourism Man­age­ment pro­gramme at the UTech, said, “We un­der­stand best prac­tices and the for­mu­la­tion of a great cup­cake.”

The young en­tre­pre­neur ac­knowl­edges the sup­port that she re­ceives from her mom, Claudette Smith, to help the sis­ters to es­tab­lish their busi­ness. She says, that the prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the JACE school pro­gramme over three years gave her the con­fi­dence she re­ally needed.

Im­ple­mented in part­ner­ship with pri­vate, pub­lic, and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, JACE is an annual pro­gramme man­aged by the JAJ that gives stu­dents at the sec­ondary level across the is­land hands-on learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences in op­er­at­ing their own busi­nesses by ac­tu­ally start­ing one.

Yanique Tay­lor, di­rec­tor of pro­grammes at the JAJ, said the JACE pro­gramme is now be­ing ex­panded, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, from 45 schools last year, “so that all ninth grade stu­dents will be able to par­tic­i­pate in the next three years”.

“Be­com­ing an en­tre­pre­neur isn’t for ev­ery­one,” Tay­lor said, “how­ever, em­ploy­ers are also looking for work­ers who have en­tre­pre­neur­ial skills.”

That is why the JACE pro­gramme fo­cuses on key fac­tors in pre­par­ing stu­dents for the work­ing world such as crit­i­cal think­ing, com­mu­ni­cat­ing ef­fec­tively, and prob­lem solv­ing. Tay­lor said that Abi­gail Smith is just one of many stu­dents whose lives have been en­hanced by par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gramme.

“We reached ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 stu­dents last year and ex­pect that to ex­pand to 10,000,” Tay­lor said. “In ad­di­tion, rather than be­ing an af­ter-school pro­gramme, it will now be taught in class.”

Abi­gail’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the JACE pro­gramme led her to ap­pre­ci­ate the value of lis­ten­ing to good ad­vice, Smith said. That sup­port came from her fac­ulty ad­viser at St Hugh’s, Ros­alie Bogle, who helped to keep the team fo­cused, while ex­ter­nal ad­vice came from Delo­ries Jones, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent sales and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment at JN Fund Man­agers Lim­ited.

“The stu­dents needed mostly ba­sic ad­vice about re­solv­ing pro­duc­tion and mar­ket­ing chal­lenges,” Jones pointed out. “What­ever the size of your busi­ness, the same ba­sic op­er­a­tion rules ap­ply, and I try to adapt those prin­ci­ples to the spe­cific chal­lenges they face.”


Jones said that JN Fund Man­agers spon­sors eight schools par­tic­i­pat­ing in the JACE pro­gramme and also funds the ac­qui­si­tion of 100 pass­ports for par­tic­i­pants. She said, “The ca­pac­ity to prove who you are is es­sen­tial in car­ry­ing out fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions; there­fore, a pass­port is a valu­able tool, as it

is recog­nised both lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

The sup­port of, and ex­po­sure to, the busi­ness world is now stand­ing Smith in good stead. She said, “My sis­ter and I started out well and our fo­cus is now on expansion.”

The duo sees it­self at the head of a fully func­tion­ing event­plan­ning com­pany in an­other five years, but a lot of hard work will be needed to achieve that ob­jec­tive. And Smith ad­mits that the en­tre­pre­neur­ial life is not an easy one.

“You should only go into a busi­ness that is your pas­sion,” she stated. “It has to be some­thing that you will wake up at 3:00 o’clock in the morn­ing and say to your­self, ‘I am go­ing to do this.’”


Cup­cakes by Pizazz


Richard Johnson (right), mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, JN Fund Man­agers, tries a cup­cake.

En­tre­pre­neur Abi­gail Smith (cen­tre) shows ap­pre­ci­a­tion to Delo­ries Jones, se­nior vi­cepres­i­dent, and Richard Johnson, mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, at the JN Fund Man­agers head­quar­ters in New Kingston.

Abi­gail Smith (left) tells Delo­ries Jones, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent, JN Fund Man­agers, about her Straw­berry Sur­prise, Glo­ri­ous Guava and Ap­ple cup­cakes.

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