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By Primus Hutchinson

September 3, 1998 - Youth in the community of Delcer, Choiseul and its environs have been provided with an opportunity to engage in small business ventures. They converged at the Delcer Primary School last weekend to participate in a one day workshop organized by the St. Lucia rural enterprise project (SLREP), which carried the theme some small business ideas for self-employment.

The workshop is expected to guide these young people to undertake projects in their own communities. Parliamentary Representative for Choiseul the Honourable Ferguson John attended the opening session. He says the initiative is a positive one and suggested that SLREP implement similar workshops in other communities.

John - "I think this workshop will help youth to understand that their communities are very, very important to them. It will help them to realize that they can remain in their communities and prosper and most importantly, it will give them that urge to want to do things for themselves."  Mr. John believes that every country must invest positively in its youth.  Its no point saying our young people are the leaders of tomorrow and not doing the things that will help them to become those leaders.

The SLREP project at La Fargue - Choiseul is primarily an agricultural programme targeted at rural households. The project also makes provision for any interested person to participate in other production activities and micro businesses.

Some of the agencies involved are the Small Enterprise Development Unit, the National Youth Council, and Government Ministries like the Ministries of Community Development and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Liaison Officer for the project, Emmanuel Haynes is of the view that there are many opportunities in the various communities for self-employment. "What we have done is to bring the agencies who are responsible for assisting with the development face to face with them, to actually tell them what they can achieve by virtue of their own efforts and the assistance of these agencies."

Haynes says the aim of  the workshop is to help participants realize that the formal job market is saturated and that they must begin to identify opportunities with the rural community that can provide employment for them. He added the hope is for them to also understand that the opportunities which they identify may not necessarily be limited to the rural communities, but the activity base may lay there for outside services.

Some of the opportunities available to the youth for self-employment include; agro-processing, dressmaking, furniture manufacturing and baking.


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