71 young entrepreneurs receive $50,000 each to expand business

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Seventy-one young entrepreneurs from the Upper Takatu-Upper-Essequibo Region, who benefitted from the first disbursement of the Stimulus Grants under the Hinterland Employment Youth Service (HEYS) programme, on Monday received 50,000 each to support their businesses.

The young people are drawn from 10 villages in South Central, Central and North Rupununi.

The young entrepreneurs successfully completed training under the HEYS programme and would have established businesses ranging from cattle and chicken rearing, grocery shops, canteen, honey production and ICT centres and stationery shops.

Delivering the feature address at the event Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock said a total of $400,000 was invested in young people who completed the programme, and many and are now business owners.

The year $100M was approved for monitoring and mentoring, along with additional monetary support for the businesses.

Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock handing over the grant to one of the young entrepreneurs. [DPI photo]
Launched in October 2015, the HEYS initiative is a flagship programme that provided training for 4,000 hinterland youths and would lead to the creation of almost 2,000 small businesses.

In addition to the $30,000 monthly stipend which the participants received during the one-year programme, a $50,000 startup grant was given to students who are desirous of creating their own businesses.

Some of the youths opted to further their studies at the higher institute of learning on the coast.

Twenty-four-year-old Darius Fernandes from Hiawa Village is the enterprising and proud owner of a pig rearing business. His road to business success was not an easy one.

When he was 14 years old, Fernandes dropped out of school because his parents could not afford to send him.

He was soon earning an income to assist his family. However, he never let his circumstances hinder his dream of making a prosperous future for himself.

Darius Fernandes

When the opportunity presented itself, he enrolled and participated in HEYS programme. Through the initiative, he received training in leadership and business management.

Fernandes, who was also elected as a councillor in his village in 2018, started his business venture with 7 pigs; utilising the start-up funds he received at the end of the one-year training course.

Today, Fernandes, along with his sister, are rearing 27 pigs which they sell to residents in and around his village.

“I was lost, no idea of what I wanted to do, but then came the HEYS. This programme really helped me a lot and I would like to thank the government for this opportunity for the young Indigenous peoples,” Fernandes said.

Marline McDonald

Marline McDonald of Parishara Village, also a school dropout, said when the opportunity was presented to her to learn a skill, she quickly seized it.

With the funding provided under HEYS, McDonald was able to construct a shop where she sells groceries and provides seamstress services for the villagers. (Extracted and modified from Department of Public Information)

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