55 people launched the Ministry of Sports and Community Development’s Entrepreneurship Development Management Program, also known as These Hands. Thirty-eight participants graduated, 37 women and one man.
Deputy Director of Community Development, Omadei Besan, said the program focuses on handicrafts and human-made things.
This included three months training with NEDCO in Small Business Development and four weeks training with Export Center Company Limited in skill upgrading.
The trainees participated in masterclasses where they were divided into groups based on their business areas, such as culinary arts, home improvement, program management, self-improvement and creative design.
“We had experts from different fields come and talk to the trainees. They gave them advice on how to build their business, challenges, progress, they entertained the trainees’ questions. And that was a successful two days.”
Participants were instructed to produce new products or services, or improve existing ones.
Gregory Pantin was the only one who graduated. Formerly a draftsman, he produces 3D prints of local icons such as Calypso Rose and Black Stalin, as well as folklore stories. He hopes to gain traction in the 2022/2023 tourism season.
Pantin presented the certificate on behalf of his class.
“Seventy percent of the class graduated. There are 37 women and one gentleman. What happened to all the men? They didn’t get the memo, who knows? But in Trinidad it’s a measure of who wants to better themselves, and which gender is the number of micro-entrepreneurial companies in TT constitutes the majority.”
He discussed the nature of the curriculum and its detailed content and then reviewed “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“The good: It was an online program fully realized and implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. The bad: The same problems with virtual participation experienced everywhere plagued the program – communication, dissemination of information and access to online tools and the Internet – but. Program Will move in person from next year.
“Well done,” he said to applause: “This program was 100 percent, worth our time. Not a single participant could say their time in class was a waste as each session brought invaluable information to all of us.”
He said that the curriculum could be more compact, and that additional sessions or recordings could be useful.
In “Ugly”, Pantin discovers halfway through the course that he is the only man in the class. At first, he was happy and told a friend, but the friend said, “It was sad.”
Pantin recalled, “He said, ‘These government self-improvement programs are free, it takes your time to get better.’ He was very concerned there were not many men, many young men trying to do well.
“Ugly, while I feel special to be the only male represented, the truth is, there should be more.”
Pantin urged all present to encourage young men in programs such as these hands, thereby increasing the number of men in entrepreneurship.