Some two thousand and fifty four (2,054) small, but successful businesses have been established under the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs flagship youth program the Hinterland Employment Youth Service HEYS initiative since its commencement in 2015.
Youth from across the hinterland have received the necessary tools to becoming financially independent, bringing the much needed development to their respective communities and villages.
Nineteen year old Omay Sammy from Kako Village, Region 7 the proud an joint owner of A Computer and Paper Shop said “the HEYS program empowered me and I was able to learn both theory and practical in various areas. I have mostly learned about ICT now I have opened my small business. It is very beneficial to me and my village especially teachers and school students”.
According to Omay, “I do printing photocopying and scanning”.
Reflecting on village life prior to the introduction of the HEYS Program Omay said “there was nothing to motivate and involve young people before HEYS program just playing football as part of exercise and recreation. They was no real commercial activities that can create jobs for the young people. Fortunately there came a program called Hinterland Employment Youth Service. This program really taught me a lot and thanks to the Government who had proposed the program and create jobs in every community”.
November last, the churches that had gathered for the annual Upper Mazaruni Youth Congress (Seventh Day Adventist Youth Congress) would have given Omay’s business their fully support of which he is grateful for.
Twenty seven year old Sherry Austin from Chenowing Village, noted that “as a young person HEYS has taught me the skills that I can now apply to establish my business. Also during training I have learnt other skills that I am now practicing for the development of myself so I can be a better individual in my community.”
“I have established my business named Sherry’s Variety Store. I begin it from scratch and is now improving although there are challenges faced in transporting stocks from Georgetown. However it is under control …and is beneficial to myself and my village”, Sherry testified.
The youth program also came on for high praises from twenty nine year old Annicia Edwards from Phillipai Village, also in Region 7 the owner of Edwin’s Mini Mart.
“You know how it is sometimes, I have my business but the selling is kinda slow at times but it is still on. I plan to buy some more stocks. I also make handcraft and sell it back to the community from my shop”.
However, Edwards said the program has allowed them to build the capacity where they can utilize their skills effectively and as such has enable her not only to be able to run the day to day affairs of her business, but to also provide support to her village. She note that “as a young person during my training in the HEYS program I have gained a lot and now I’m putting it into practice”.
According to the young entrepreneur, the training has enable her to practice good leadership skills and she has since been actively involved in voluntary community work and “at present I am working as a Phillipai Nursery Committee member and as the Community Emergency Response Team leader because I want to show my good values an qualities”.
She was also appreciative of the support received from her relatives, who during her absence, would take the reins and run the day to day affairs of her shop.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry Valerie Garrido-Lowe during her Budget 2019 presentation in the National Assembly said “the Hinterland Employment and Youth Service, has provided one year of training to 3,795 youths in 222 villages over the last two years. This training allows for capacity building, strengthening of life skills, bolstering literacy and numeracy skills, creating self-awareness and building esteem, strengthening individual vocational interests and entrepreneurial aptitudes”.
Businesses range from cattle rearing, Poultry Rearing (Broilers, Layers and Ducks), Crop & Vegetable Farming, Nursery (Grafting of Fruit Trees), Fishing, Fish Farming, Sheep, Goat and Pig Rearing, Cassava Bread/ Quinches/ Cassareep Production, Honey Production, hardware stores, floating grocery store “you name it and the HEYS are doing it”, the Minister pointed out.
Government has invested some $2.3 billion for the development of youth in the hinterland and according to Minister Garrido-Lowe, “in the 2019 Budget, in order to ensure that these businesses grow in strength and flourish, a further $176.1 MILLION is allocated for monitoring and mentoring, along with additional monetary support”.