SIXTEEN women, all micro entrepreneurs from the March Pen and Corletts Roads communities in Spanish Town, St Catherine, were recently taught how to make a persuasive business pitch to attract funding for their operations.
The women, whose ages ranged from 18 to 40 years, participated in a workshop under the Woman Economic Empowerment Project (WEEP), an initiative of the Girls to Women Development Foundation Limited, a non-profit organisation, based in St Catherine, which has been in operation for the past five years.
“The purpose of the WEEP Programme is to train and develop the morale of women, who have been exposed, or are likely to be exposed to domestic violence. Classes are held from Mondays to Fridays and is for six months,” said Stacy-Ann Gavin, managing director, Girls to Women Foundation.
“We’re working to build up their entrepreneurial and social skills. We are also giving them exposure to the importance of gender and development; what constitutes gender-based violence; and what signs to look for, so that they can identify domestic violence.”
Gavin, who is a graduate of The University of the West Indies, said she established the foundation to give back to society.
“I am a graduate of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies and I decided to start the foundation to assist women to make greater contribution to their communities. It is my way of giving back to the country and assisting others through ways I can,” she stated.
The Girls to Women Development Foundation Limited currently receives support from the Civil Society Boost Initiative II, a programme funded by the European Union, and the Rise Life Management Services.
“I wrote a proposal to Civil Society Boost Initiative II and they responded by giving us a grant, which has assisted us to train the women. At the end of the training, each participant will receive a grant to support, or start their businesses,” she explained.
Gavin is happy with the feedback from participants.
“The response, so far, has been overwhelming because we are over the limit as to the number of persons we wanted to train. The women are keen to learn, and we rarely have anyone being absent. They are also here early in the days. All the women are from March Pen and Corletts Road; and their ages range from 18-40 years old. They appreciate the training and they are already thinking about how they can become better entrepreneurs,” she advised.
Karen Walsh-Stamp, head regional credit sales and operations, JN Small Business Loans, advised the women to be confident when pitching for funds.
“You are always making a pitch for your business. When you go somewhere, and you are telling someone about your business, it is a pitch. It is selling your business. You have to tell your potential customer or sponsor about what you do, the product or service you offer, and why it is better than your competitors. While doing this, you need to be confident about it. Remember, it is yours, therefore, be proud of it,” she advised.
Nadesda McDonald, who operates a bar in the community, said that she decided to participate in the programme because she wanted tips about how to serve snacks in order to grow her business.
“I have been learning a lot, especially about how to pitch and manage my bar better. The information has been helpful and will benefit my business,” she said.
Shanice Morris, who plans to start a business to sell scented candles and hair products, said that the training has pointed her in the direction of the type of business she wants to develop.
“Before enrolling, I was slightly unsure about what I wanted to do, in terms of the business. However, the workshop has pointed me in the right direction; and provided me with pointers about how to secure funding, budgeting and planning, to ensure that I do well,” she related.
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