Fifty-five people started the Ministry of Sports and Community Development’s Business Development Management Program, also known as Con Estas Manos. 38 participants graduated, 37 women and one man.
Community development deputy director Omadaye Beesan said the program focused on crafts and what people do with their hands.
It involved three months of training with NEDCO in small business development and four weeks with Export Center Company Ltd, in skills refinement.
Beesan said the trainees attended master’s classes where they were divided into groups based on their area of business, such as culinary arts, home improvement, event management, self-improvement and creative design.
“We had experts in various fields come and chat with the trainees. They told them how they could build their businesses, the challenges, the tips to get ahead. They entertained the trainee’s questions and it was a successful two days.”
Program participants were instructed to produce new products or services, or improve existing ones.
Gregory Pantin was the only gentleman to graduate from the program. Formerly a cartoonist, he produces 3D prints of local icons, such as Calypso Rose and Black Stalin, as well as folklore legends. He hopes to gain traction during the 2022/2023 touring season.
Pantin provided testimony on behalf of his class.
“Seventy percent of the class has graduated. There are 37 ladies and one gentleman. What happened to all the men? They didn’t get the memo, who knows? But it’s an indicator of who in Trinidad wants to improve, and what gender make up the majority of micro-enterprise companies in TT”.
He discussed the intricate nature of the course and its extensive content, and then provided an overview: “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
“The good is: this was a fully realized and executed online program during the covid19 pandemic. The bad: the same issues with virtual participation experienced everywhere else also plagued this program: communication, information dissemination, and access to devices on online and Internet, but the program will become face-to-face starting next year.
“The good stuff,” he said, to raucous applause, “This program was 100 percent worth our time. No participant can say their time was wasted in class, as each session provided invaluable information for each and every one of us.” U.S”.
He said the course might have been too compact and additional sessions or recordings would have been helpful.
About, “the ugly one”, Pantin said halfway through the course he discovered that he was the only man in a class of women. Initially, Pantin was happy when he told a friend, but the friend said: “That was sad.”
Pantin recalled: “He said, ‘These government self-improvement programs are free, all you need is your time to get better.’ He was very upset that there weren’t more men, more young men striving to do better.
“The ugly thing is that, although I feel special to be the only man represented, the truth is that there should be more.”
Pantin asked all attendees to encourage young people to participate in programs like Con Estas Manos, so that the number of male entrepreneurs increases.