Entrepreneurs turn out for Junior Achievers

The 19th annual awards ceremony of Junior Achievement Saint Lucia (JA-SLU) was held on Thursday 17th September, 2015 at the Golden Palm Events Centre, Rodney Bay.

Junior Achievement (JA) is one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations, dedicated to improving the lives of the youth by providing economic literacy programmes to students and teaching them the importance of an education. Over 10.6 million students experience the JA programme annually. Thursday’s ceremony recognized the efforts of local students over the past year.

Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy presenting Gem Papier of George Charles Secondary School  with an award.

Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy presenting Gem Papier of George Charles Secondary School
with an award.

The JA-SLU programme was initiated in 1996 as a project of the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture. JA-SLU, a franchise of the parent company, ‘Junior Achievement Worldwide’, operates under the patronage of Her Excellency, The Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, who was guest of honour at the event.

The morning’s guest speaker was RJB Hotel Supplies’ managing director, Mr. Rick Jonathan Barnard. He offered the students a brief history of the company that he started in October 2013 and which currently represents locally over 4,000 quality-product brands. Barnard recalled his beginnings in a two-storey Morne Fortune apartment, the bottom floor serving as his warehouse. He inspired students with sage advice: “Having a dream, hard work, determination, passion and staying focused brings about lasting rewards”.

Offering himself as proof, Barnard assured his audience: “You too can build the business of your dreams from scratch,” while acknowledging that his main inspiration was “my family.”

Following his stint at the microphone, the 27-year-old entrepreneur proudly told me, “I offer my clients the opportunity to purchase locally their foreign-manufactured supplies. We don’t only provide for hotels and restaurants, as many believe; we also retail such household items as kettles and other kitchenware.” RJB operates eleven vehicles and employs a staff of fifteen.

This year’s ceremony formed part of the Ministry of Commerce Business month and was included in the calendar of activities.

The former president of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Chris Husbands, told me that his goal was: “to help Junior Achievers as much as possible; to foster financial literacy, good citizenship and leadership outside the curriculum.” Between last year and now, he said, “We have managed to have entrepreneurship officially endorsed by the government as a part of the school syllabus.”

Awards were presented as follows:

National Achiever of the Year 2014/2015:
1st place, with a bursary of $3,000 – Keeghan Patrick of St Mary’s College;
2nd place, with a bursary of $2,500 – Valerie Baptiste of Choiseul Secondary School;
3rd place, with a CXC voucher valued at $500 – R’ Monty Regis of Soufriere Comprehensive School.

Company Awards:
Best Attendance – JA Xpress Designz of the Babonneau Secondary School; Best Records – Tie Dazzle of the Choiseul Secondary School; Highest Return on Investment Award – Gem Papier of the George Charles Secondary School; Sales Person of the Year – Kamaliah Monroque, JA Xpress Designs of Babonneau Secondary School; The Governor General’s Award for Innovation, Originality and Creativity – Gem Papier of the George Charles Secondary school.

Company of the Year 2014/2015:
1st place – Gem Papier of George Charles Secondary School; 2nd place – Tie Dazzle – Choiseul Secondary School; 3rd place – JA Xpress Designz – Babonneau Secondary School.

Junior Achievement Saint Lucia congratulates all participants and encourages them to continue developing their entrepreneurial spirit.

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