Helping T&T's younger generation with their entrepreneurial spirit.

Businesswoman Jo-Zette Dick has her eye on the young entrepreneurs of Trinidad and Tobago, believing that they are uniquely poised for success, having more information and opportunities at their fingertips than any other generation before. During the July–August vacation, she gave groups of eager, business-minded teens their first glimpse into the world of business at her Caribbean Youth Biz Camp, held at St. Anthony’s College in Diego Martin.

In spite of her own youth, Dick has achieved much. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and French from Morgan State University, Baltimore; a master’s in Public Administration and International Management from American University in Washington DC.; and an MBA from Wake Forest University, North Carolina. Having worked as a senior associate in a major international consulting firm, she is now Managing Director of her own consultancy, Brindley and Associates, and also runs a chic maternity store, Maternity Mode, in St. James. “The camp was a special project within my company,” she explains. “It ties into my overall goal of promoting youth entrepreneurship. It’s my way of contributing to the future.” Then she adds, with a laugh, “Now is the best time. I didn’t want to wait until I’m a billionaire.”

She goes on to explain that while her parents were very supportive of her educational and entrepreneurial ambitions from a young age, not all teens are afforded this advantage, so she felt compelled to share her knowledge and experience with these kids, who were hungry to learn and eager to test the business waters for themselves. “I wanted to help them get to the point where they could see themselves in leadership positions. To learn to manage themselves, and be successful in the marketplace.”

The backbone of the camp consisted of teaching the teens critical thinking skills, to assess the current environment, brainstorm ideas and create or leverage opportunities. This was done through hands-on projects, such as working together to create an important tool called a business model canvas. “We taught them to find a problem, and then establish a business to solve it.” To make this activity more interesting, it was based on a real project by Trac It Solutions, whose owner, Lyndon Jones, offers the Hydra-Station and Hydra-Tap, environmentally conscious drinking water solutions for fetes and events.

Executives from several other businesses came to the Caribbean Youth Biz Camp to interact with the campers. They include Immortelle Beauty; Buzz Concepts Limited; HikeNation Club; Cocobel and ChefMade. Campers learned to create their own audio ads with Music 56 Productions, and received financial advice from Eastern Credit Union. Even Sekani Solomon of Sekani Motion Design—creator of the stunning closing credit sequence of Black Panther and covered in Issue 1, 2018 of MACO People—popped in via Skype to chat.

Of course, the programme didn’t neglect softer skills, such as social interactions and developing personal relationships. This was done through team-building exercises and fun games like Taboo, Charades, and even blindfolded challenges. “A very important part of the process was to get them out of their comfort zones,” Dick explains. “Although they were having fun, they were learning to communicate. They learned when to take directions and when not to, and the importance of having someone in your blind spot.” Even the more reserved participants found a way to shine.

Parents responded with great enthusiasm, noting a change in their children in those few short weeks. “I was impressed with how confident and articulate my son was,” said one mother. “It has solidified my intention to support him in his goal to become an entrepreneur.” Buoyed by the positive feedback, Dick is already looking forward to staging the next iteration of the camp, as well as working on ideas for other activities that can support these youngsters in the coming months.

The venture will almost certainly be a success, and it will surely grow as parents seize the opportunity to expose their children to a camp that isn’t just a holding bay for them during the idle “summer” months, but a way to help them become strong, confident, self-reliant adults.  “I’ve learned a lot,” muses Dick. “There is hope in terms of raising ethical business-people who are excited about doing something different and raising the bar.”

No more articles