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Minister Touts Youth Program

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resource Renward Wells touted the Department of Cooperative’s Youth Program last Friday pledging the support of his ministry in the years to come as the students participated in a graduation exercise showcasing their talents at the Youth Embracing Excellence Successfully (YEES).

“I am never not amazed at the capacity of the Bahamian people to do good and to do exceptionally well at things,” Mr. Wells said.

“You know my goal as the new minister is to always see that we add value to the potential products here in the country, and for what I have seen here from these individuals, the young people, who are coming behind, is exceptional.

“No need to question this program has my full support and we’re going to see to it that it continues and it goes from strength to strength.”

Mr. Wells further indicated that through the hard working staff in the department, the program has seen success, while thanking those that worked with the students.

“I want to thank the staff and all those who have worked in the cooperative movement to make this happen, that they would have passed on this information to the next generation of Bahamians who are going to be responsible to add value to all of the products that we have and the things that we are seeking to produce,” Mr. Wells said.

Program coordinator Cheryl Bowe-Moss echoed Mr. Wells’ sentiments adding that the students were taught variations of self skills that would allow them to find their way into their own businesses.

“The program is a youth empowerment program to get. We teach them about what cooperatives are and we train them in business formation and etiquette,” Mrs. Bowe-Moss said.

“We focus on cottage industries that the children can do at home. They can be independent and not dependents of society.

“They’ve learnt how to do soap making, which doesn’t take very much. They’ve done candle making, jewelry making preserves [they’ve made jams]. They are doing pepper sauce. They are dong relishes they are doing tomato bottling.

“All of that as well as they have learned to do upholstery making and something critical in every individual life that they need to do CPR which is first aid.  That was critical each year in our course and they all had to do it.”

She also noted that the program, developed three years ago for summer students not old enough to be gainfully employed in the government’s summer program, will soon make its way throughout the all schools and Family Islands.

“We are moving this along [youth empowerment workshop] and in small measures throughout the Family Islands,” Mrs. Bowe-Moss indicated.

“In the schools they do some of the stuff year round and we’ve already laid foundation to expand this program next year into the Family Islands.”

Also on hand for the program’s showcase, Director of the Department of Cooperative Judy Simmons noted that the program, while only in its third year, has seen tremendous growth.

“The YEES program began in 2015, actually, where we began the program with them learning how to develop business plans for the cooperative program, cooperative business,” Mrs. Simmons said.

“We have kids in here from 2015 and so, we then mushroom into a practical aspect in terms of cottage industry.

“So what you see here today, last year we did 19 different cottage industries. This year we had cut it down to 15.

“The program has grown from 22 to 35 participants.

“We already have enrollment for next year’s program and as our minister has indicated the program will now be expanded to August.”

Mrs. Simmons also confirmed that the program is expected to be expanded to assist with establishing entrepreneurs

“There are prospects for this program, is to take it throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, every youth enrolled in school from primary to high school will be a part of this program,” Mrs. Simmons said.

“We have 24 youth cooperatives. Now we’ve expanded that from 2015. We have grown tremendously, from about five cooperatives that were inactive pretty much to 24 active programs.”

She further noted that the program is anticipating assisting students who have been a part of the workshop since its inception.

“Next year, we have three.  There are reaching 17 and so next year what we plan to do is to actually get these students involved in a cluster so that they will launch their own cottage industry. So that’s the plan for YEES at the Department of Cooperative Development,” Mrs. Simmons said.

The YEES program began July 3 and its anticipated date for closing is July 28, however according to Mr. Wells the program will be extended through August.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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