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Aug 4, 2017

Ex-Gangsters Renounce Guns for Business

Twenty-five gang members received certificates for having attended a two-day course in introduction to entrepreneurship. The men joined seventy-five other apprentices to learn the basics of what is required to start a business. The initiative was led by Dianne Finnegan, who works with the Belize City intervention program. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has more on the two-day course.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Seventy-five at-risk youths are participating in the ‘Youth Apprenticeship Program’. It is a six month course that trains young people in a number of areas – and will wrap up at the end of the year. The participants did a crash course in ‘Introduction to Entrepreneurship’ this week. As a part of the session, they learned the basics of business.


Amy Giuliano

Amy Giuliano, Founder, Beauty in Belize

“The intention and purpose of this program was to instill entrepreneurial and business leadership in the youth. We learned the basics of starting your own business. There is a lot of information when you are starting your own company, so we just wanted to start with the basics; so the importance of customer service, marketing, branding, how important it is to set goals, how to budget your money. We not only learned how to start businesses but we also created resumes.   I know a lot of kids don’t have an education, but those are the kids we really need to motivate to start their own companies. Sometimes due to their background checks or whatever their case might be, they can’t get hired for a job, so their only choice would be to start their own company and that is a great thing. They are gonna help the economy, they are going to provide employment for the community and then the best part of it, they can teach others how to start their own business.”


Also taking part in this introduction to entrepreneurship course are members of the Belize City intervention program. Twenty-five members or associates of gangs across the city are learning the fundamentals of business – they say the course has been eye-opening.


Ryan Davis

Ryan Davis, Former Member Antelope Street Extension

“This program teach me mi fi own my own business and be a betta man inna life, yuh heck, miss? Because when I use to be a gang member I used to do lone negative thing inna life; and now deh people open fi we eye mek we got fi we own business, and try be a betta person fi help fi we family and the ghetto youths weh di come up too and nuh try teach deh no bad thing.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, weh kinda business would you like to open?”


Ryan Davis

“I wah go inna farming because I know people need fi eat, yeah; and I wah tek care ah the whole country. Country-wide I want provide food.”


Andrea Polanco

“Suh when we wah si Ryan’s Farm?”


Ryan Davis

“Well, I done got mi piece ah place already. I got fifty acres dah St James’ Moon and I just need to start effective work and mek things start happen. “


Andrea Polanco

“Now, you are participating with other members and associates of different gangs, what was the experience like, was it good to be able to sit down and learn in this setting?”


Ryan Davis

“Well, everybody come to an equal understanding that we wah seize war and we wah stop the killing because then dah lone black people we di kill and dah we lone kind we di kill, we lee bredda deh and it nuh mek no sense.”


Andrea Polanco

“Suh we nuh wah hear Ryan involved inna no lee shooting and things like that?”


Ryan Davis

“No. No shooting. Once you hear that dah wrong ting, miss. Dah wrong man, yeah. Me nuh into dah no more.”


Alex Underwood, Co-Leader of S.S.G.

“We di learn how fi control a business and manage it financially and deh teach we dat inna training yesterday and we learn. Today we deh yah fi receive fi we certificate and that dah just wah start fi we. We like the start we have and we wah continue from yah.”


Alex Underwood

Andrea Polanco

“Now, you have influence within your community, is this something you are going to spread especially with the younger kids in your neighborhood; that they should take up these kinds of opportunities?”


Alex Underwood

“Yes, man. Definitely. We do that every day. We nuh need nobody fi tell we. We try to talk to the youth deh every day and try show deh the right way and what right from wrong and only deh fin listen and tek in the experience because we go through it and only we know what it’s like to be inna the streets.”


Devon Bailey

Devon Bailey, Former Member Antelope Street Extension

“The whole point ah it dah fi show we as ghetto youths that we could still be successful business people too. Nuh because we come from nuttn means that we fi remain nuttn. That’s why we deh yah today day and we deh inna deh yah type ah program suh we could learn and build fi we knowledge.”


Andrea Polanco

“Is it your hope to own your business one day?”


Devon Bailey

“Miss, I got lotta hopes and dreams fi own my business one day. I dah wah open wah food business and a clothing business because I believe you need fi eat everyday and you need fi wear clothes. And I wah sell clothes from baby to old people.”


In this training course the participants learn skills that will help them outside of their business ventures.


Dianne Finnegan

Dianne Finnegan, Coordinator, Youth Apprenticeship Program

“We want them to be able to understand where the employer is at and how he ended up owning his business; what are some of the sacrifices he had to do in order to accomplish what he has today. And in through those sacrifices he is able to employ them. So, the whole issue of respect and value for the work place.   Again, what it teaches them is the importance of attendance, punctuality, dress code; all of this is what builds a business. So, through this training they are able to see themselves as employers, to owning a business one day and what it is that they would want to see in order to sustain that building.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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