San­dals Foun­da­tion Busi­ness En­thu­si­ast Pro­gram reaches 119 from 10 Com­mu­ni­ties

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The San­dals Foun­da­tion, with The School of Busi­ness En­trepreneurs (TSOBE), has recorded tremen­dous suc­cess in its EC$60,000 un­der­tak­ing dubbed ‘Busi­ness En­thu­si­ast’.

The pro­gram, which kicked off in April 2016, is poised to end in Jan­uary 2017 and has tar­geted young en­trepreneurial­minded Saint Lu­cians.

These young­sters have been pro­vided with the nec­es­sary tools in busi­ness plan­ning, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and di­rec­tion from sea­soned train­ers and busi­ness pro­fes­sion­als from across the is­land.

Some 119 of the de­sired 180 youth from 10 com­mu­ni­ties across the is­land have so far been reached and have suc­cess­fully com­pleted the pro­gram.

“We hosted the pro­gram in the town of Vieux Fort and in Cas­tries, and had par­tic­i­pants from Choisuel, Soufriere, Mi­coud, Vieux Fort, Babon­neau, Cas­tries, Gros Islet and Anse La Raye,” said TSOBE Project Man­ager Janelle Sealy.

She ex­plained the key fo­cuses of the Busi­ness En­thu­si­ast pro­gram which in­clude the devel­op­ment and main­te­nance of an en­tre­pre­neur­ial mind­set. Sealey said this was achieved through a series of con­di­tion­ing ap­proaches that in­cluded Tem­per­a­ment and Per­sonal Devel­op­ment, Busi­ness Plan Devel­op­ment, Mar­ket Anal­y­sis and Com­pe­ti­tion and Plan, Busi­ness Fi­nances and Busi­ness Reg­is­tra­tion & Li­cens­ing.

Un­der­stand­ing and mas­ter­ing these fun­da­men­tals, the project man­ager as­serted, were key to the suc­cess of any busi­ness and, most im­por­tantly, to any busi­ness-minded in­di­vid­ual.

Di­rec­tor of Pro­grams for the San­dals Foun­da­tion, Heidi Clarke, has reaf­firmed the Foun­da­tion’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing pro­grams like these that tar­get young men and women and di­rectly im­pact in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies and ul­ti­mately com­mu­ni­ties.

“This is our third un­der­tak­ing with TSOBE and we are very pleased with the suc­cesses thus far. We have seen and heard from the par­tic­i­pants them­selves and most have gone on to de­velop ac­tive and thriv­ing busi­nesses at all lev­els. We couldn’t be more proud,” Clarke said.

At least five eight-week train­ing ses­sions have so far been con­ducted in sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties in the north and south of the is­land. Dur­ing the pro­gram, like-minded par­tic­i­pants find them­selves in groups or teams and are tasked with con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing a busi­ness from plan­ning to im­ple­men­ta­tion.

Each ses­sion wraps up with a busi­ness plan pre­sen­ta­tion where each team is re­quired to pitch its busi­ness plan to a panel of judges that in­cludes a Sedu Devel­op­ment Of­fi­cer, a Min­istry of Youth and Sports Of­fi­cer, a TSOBE Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a San­dals Re­sorts Man­ager and a se­nior busi­ness per­son. The panel ap­plauds or cri­tiques the de­tails, vi­a­bil­ity and prof­itabil­ity of the ex­e­cu­tion of the pre­sented busi­ness plans. The win­ning busi­ness pitch and plan also re­ceives a small seed cap­i­tal to­wards the start of the busi­ness.

Among the most suc­cess­ful of grad­u­ates and busi­nesses is Hester St. Clair, a 28-year-old univer­sity grad­u­ate who is now run­ning a youth devel­op­ment pro­gram cater­ing to at least 35 chil­dren be­tween the ages of 3 and 12 years old.

St. Clair was like many un­em­ployed grad­u­ate Saint Lu­cians who be­lieved the path for pro­fes­sional growth must be­gin with the av­er­age job. Her ex­po­sure to the San­dals Foun­da­tion/TSOBE pro­gram opened her eyes to a dif­fer­ent path.

“The im­por­tant thing that stood out for me was the mind­set that find­ing a job was not the only av­enue for growth. Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur not only em­pow­ers me, but those around me. I re­al­ized that if I put my mind to it, I can be suc­cess­ful do­ing what I love. It was a lot of work but well worth the chal­lenge,” she said.

Tal­isha De­cem­bre, 25, is an­other such can­di­date who em­bod­ies the con­cept of an ‘en­tre­pre­neur at heart’, hav­ing stum­bled upon the San­dals Foun­da­tion/TSOBE pro­gram in a Google search with key words ‘en­trepreneur­ship cour­ses’. De­cem­bre, who now runs a pas­try kitchen, said, “My whole idea of busi­ness is where we teach our con­sumers and not only pro­duce for them. Clients can also learn to do bak­ing for them­selves.”

She said the pro­gram has helped her to not only plan for the start of her busi­ness but also to lay the right plat­form for sus­tained busi­ness growth. “Busi­ness is not only to make money, it’s like giv­ing life to some­thing. Cre­at­ing some­thing is more im­por­tant. Hav­ing a busi­ness that sur­passes your life­time is what en­trepreneur­ship is all about, in my mind. I want my busi­ness to con­tribute some­thing to so­ci­ety. It’s an out­let of me and is more or less like hav­ing a child.”

The San­dals Foun­da­tion/ TSOBE Busi­ness En­thu­si­ast pro­gram draws its cur­tains in Jan­uary 2017.

San­dals Foun­da­tion Di­rec­tor of Pro­grams Heidi Clarke ad­dresses Young Busi­ness En­trepreneurs at a TSOBE Work­shop in 2016.

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