Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Youth Entrepreneurship As A Vehicle To Enhance Economic Growth

As far as I can remember Jamaicans have had to deal with austerity measures. A significant number of Jamaicans can recall the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP’s) of the 1970’s, resulting from the complex and painful relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which continues even to today.
There is a co-relation between poverty and a culture of entrepreneurship. This association between poverty and entrepreneurship has genesis in Jamaica’s folk culture. Cultural icon and scholar, Lousie Bennett Coverley urges us to “tun our hands and make fashion”, however, many of us due to pride refuse from lifting a finger to help ourselves.  A recent study done on the role poverty plays on entrepreneurial activity  by Laura Doering, assistant professor at University of Toronto’s, Rotman School of Management revealed that entrepreneurs are both catalyzed and limited by conditions of poverty. In the same research Jamaica was placed seventh among the countries with the most entrepreneurs. The list was headed by Uganda, Thailand and Brazil and was rounded off by Cameroon, Vietnam, Angola, Botswana and Chile. The study looked at the percentage of the population who owned or co-owned a business. This findings support local research which indicates that there is a rise in young Chief Executive Officers. According to a recent newspaper report, the lack of opportunities, a high unemployment rate, the unbridled willingness to take risks and a strong enthusiasm to be successful are fuelling an increasing number of young Jamaicans to go into their own business.
In tough economic times the creativity and innovation of a nation, especially the youth population usually is spurred into action resulting in job creation and wealth building.
The time has come for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to formally introduce a Youth Entrepreneurship course in the national curriculum. The society urgently requires a paradigm shift in education in which graduates are empowered to create their own jobs instead of waiting to be called for employment. The economy has been stagnating over the years and as a result not enough jobs are created to meet the needs of the thousands of students who graduate yearly from secondary and tertiary institutions. It bear thought that with Jamaica’s high crime rate the government needs to explore more possibilities associated with youth entrepreneurship to reduce our crime rate. At present the country has too many unattached and at -risk youths, especially young men. The education system must move with the times and become more proactive in order to meet the needs of our youth population.
Our students must be equipped with the knowledge, for example, to conduct a feasibility study in order to determine which areas of business are in demand.
With globalization, the entrepreneur no longer has to confine his/her business plans locally. This has led to new possibilities especially for the tech savvy youth. The growth of social media has assisted tremendously in fostering business relationship and provides a great marketing tool for goods and services.
According to the newspaper report small and medium-size business (SME’s) are seeing a paradigm shift as young adults are turned off by the nine to five workforce. We need to provide more funding for those risk takers who are willing to create their own jobs by ensuring attractive interest rates are available. We also need to ensure that training especially in packaging and design are available to our local entrepreneurs. 
In the words of Richard Branson, “for a successful entrepreneur it can mean extreme wealth. But with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference”. As a society we need to move towards a culture of entrepreneurship as this is only way Jamaica will overcome the challenges of crime and high unemployment we face as a nation.
Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com
@WayneCamo
#employment #globalization #Jamaica #youth #entrepreneurship #empowerment #crime #socialmedia