Four up-and-coming entrepreneurs from local tertiary institutions are now on their way to becoming full fledged business owners thanks to Churches Cooperative Credit Union (CCCU). The financial institution awarded grants valued at $300,000 to outstanding business students earlier this week when the winners of the 2009 Churches Co-operative Credit Union Entrepreneurs’ Awards were announced.
Daniella Hyde of the University of Technology, Deborah Richards of the University of the West Indies and partners Nicole Bryson and Rafique Hackshaw of the Northern Caribbean University have all received start up capital to launch their business ventures. In addition, if the students require further funding to get their businesses up and running they will be able to access business loans from CCCU at competitive rates.
Launched in 2006, the CCU’s Entrepreneurs’ Awards scheme was devised to encourage entrepreneurship among young persons as a means of facilitating economic development in Jamaica. Awards are given to a student or group from each of the participating campus who submits the most feasible and comprehensive business plan for a small business enterprise. The participating campuses are the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology and the Northern Caribbean University.
To be eligible for entry, a student must be in their final year of studying, must have at least a B average after two years of study and must intend to go into business after graduating. In addition to their written submissions, applicants were also judge on the passion and enthusiasm they exhibited for their business ideas during an interactive session with a panel of assessors.
CCCU’s support for the winners will go beyond the financial contribution of $300,000. The Credit Union will also be providing a mentor for each of the awardees. The mentors, who will be members of CCCU’s staff who have experience in business management, will support the new enterprises through the often precarious incubator period to increase the chances of success.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, which was held recently at the Knutsford Court Hotel CCCU’s General Manager, Mr. Basil Naar said, “Churches Cooperative Credit Union believes that the nation’s economic future lies in the hands of those who are inclined to engage in business enterprises and our involvement in encouraging entrepreneurism is an integral part of our modus operandi.”
Mr. Naar also announced his company’s intention to expand the scope of its Entrepreneurs’ Awards Programme in the future. “In the ensuing years, we will continue to enhance the programme and for the next year we will be providing funding, not only as a lender to the entrepreneur but also as a venture capital investor, thus becoming a partner in the enterprise,” he added.
The winners of the 2009 Churches Co-operative Credit Union Entrepreneurs’ Awards will be starting their new business ventures within the next six months.