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Jan 9, 2008

Project helps young entrepreneurs with loans, mentoring

Story PictureIt’s not uncommon to hear about government or N.G.O. sponsored initiatives to provide skills training for young people. What is rare however, is evidence that the programmes are working. Today News Five’s Kendra Griffith dropped in on a project that’s trying hard to get the best advice possible.

Eddie Bouloy, Youth Business Trust Mentor
“As human beings we should all share the knowledge that we’ve gained throughout the years with other people.”

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
That belief is what brought Bravo Motors Managing Director, Eddie Bouloy, and thirty-seven other businesspeople to the Radisson Fort George. The professionals are receiving training to become mentors of the Youth Business Trust Belize, an organisation which provides financing and support to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Eddie Bouloy
“I’m dealing with one mentor right now. We’ve had our meeting and hopefully I am able to have an impact on the business that she is doing.”

Dionne Miranda, Project Director, Youth Business Trust Belize
“We are trying to teach the Belizean community corporate social responsibility, giving back. Not only cheques and writing off little donations, but actually giving of their own time. And this is what we feel is the key that will unlock the future for the entrepreneurs, actually holding their hands, guiding them through the process.”

“Not everyone is a mentor. We have people who will be very rude to entrepreneurs and not give them the right guidance or advice and treat them the way they maybe they treat their children. But we need proper people who are committed to the cause and trained. So today’s programme is about training them and actually getting them ready so when we pair their up with an individual, they actually know the steps to take.”

Facilitating the training is Marcia Brandon, the Regional Coordinator of the I.D.B. Young Entrepreneurs Programme who is also the Executive Director of the Barbados Youth Business Trust.

Marcia Brandon, Regional Coord., IDB Young Entrepreneurs
“Many of them come to us with ideas, a lot of ideas, a lot of energy, because of course they are young people, especially the eighteen year olds and the twenty year olds. But what they don’t have is the know-how, the managerial know-how to make this business work and that is what the more experienced business people have. Now these young people, they are just starting a business, don’t have a lot of money, so they can’t pay for it, so this is why we decided to have the concept of volunteerism where the mentor is an experienced business person or professional who can actually transfer skills to the young person.”

While at eleven years Barbados has the longest running programme in the region, the Belize chapter is only a year old. Project Director Dionne Miranda is eager to get the ball rolling.

Dionne Miranda
“We are funded by the Inter-American Development Bank, so we have money. We just need entrepreneurs who have sound, viable businesses ideas. This is not a grant, this is a loan and this is something that we are looking for sustainability, so realistically we are not just gonna be handing out money left, right and centre. This is something that we want to see that four years later we can drive around Belize City and we can say, okay that was one of our businesses.”

“I.D.B. expects us to have eighty new businesses started in the next four years, which means eighty entrepreneurs, eighty mentors, and a hundred and twenty new jobs created; not for the entrepreneurs, a hundred and twenty extra, so we have targets that we need to meet.”

Michelle Gotoy, Y.B.T.B. Loan Recipient
“I had this idea to open my own business long ago, but just that I didn’t have the finance to really do it the way how I wanted to do it. “

Since June of 2007, the Y.B.T.B. has given out twelve loans. One of them went to thirty-three year old Michelle Gotoy, who used her five thousand dollars to open a food stand on Mahogany Street.

Dionne Miranda
“The mentor is the final sign off. That person have to meet with their mentor twice before we approve a loan and that mentor has to say, yes, I believe that that young person is ready and I am also ready to carry them through and let’s go ahead and proceed with that.”

Michelle Gotoy
“I am glad that they gave me a mentor because what I think that I knew about a business or running a business wasn’t all that the fact, I only had a little bit of an idea of what running a business meant. But with the mentor, she really open your eyes and open your mind of about what running a business is really about. It’s not just only making the money and seeing that you have the customers and everything, it’s achieving a goal.”

And with her goals within reach, Gotoy is optimistic about her future and those of her three children.

Michelle Gotoy
“I want to show them that not because things hard out here that means you can’t do something for yourself. If you really want to achieve something you will achieve it and it do takes hard work and a lot of guts because it’s not the first try that I try that I got my loan because I applied to different places before.”

Eddie Bouloy
“Never give up, plan your ideas, always shoot for the stars, always think big. And it’s very important when you start to make money to save money because you never know when a rainy day is gonna come along.”

Y.B.T.B. loans range from five hundred to ten thousand dollars. Applicants must be between eighteen and thirty-five years old. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

If you have a business idea and want to contact the Youth Business Trust Belize, call 227-1356 or visit their offices on the second floor of the Doony’s Building at the corner Prince and Albert Streets.

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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