Graduant: Entrepreneurship programmes need more men

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Valedictorian: Gregory Pantin and his 3D prints of local icons.  Photo by Nicholas Maraj
Valedictorian: Gregory Pantin and his 3D prints of local icons. Photo by Nicholas Maraj

Fifty-five people started the Entrepreneurship Development Management Program of the Ministry of Sports and Community Development, also known as With These Hands. Thirty-eight participants graduated, 37 women and one man.

Deputy Director of community development, Omadaye Beesan said the program focuses on craft and what people do with their hands.

This included a three-month training with NEDCO on small business development and four weeks with Export Center Company Ltd on skill refinement.

Beesan said the trainees attended masterclasses where they were divided into groups based on their business area, such as culinary arts, home improvement, event management, self-enhancement and creative design.

“We had experts in different fields come in and chat with the trainees. They told them how they would build their businesses, the challenges, advice for development, they entertained the question from the trainees. And that was a successful two days.”

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Participants are instructed to create new products or services, or improve existing ones.

Gregory Pantin was the only male graduate. Formerly a draftsman, he makes 3D prints of local icons like Calypso Rose and Black Stalin, as well as legends. He hopes to gain traction in the tourism season of 2022/2023.

Pantin gave a testimonial on behalf of his class.

Valedictorian: Gregory Pantin and his 3D prints of local icons. Photo by Nicholas Maraj

“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 this is a measure of who in Trinidad wants to better themselves, and what gender constitutes the majority of micro-entrepreneurial firms in TT.”

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He discussed the nature of the course and its broad content, and then gave an analysis of “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“The good is: this is a fully realized and executed online program during the covid19 pandemic. The bad: the same problems with virtual participation that are experienced everywhere also plague this program – communication, dissemination of information and access to online devices and the internet – but the program will move in person from next year.

“Ang maganda,” he said, to raucous applause: “This program was 100 percent, worth our time. No participant can say that their time was wasted in class as every session brings invaluable information to each and everyone of us.”

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He said the course may be too compact, and additional sessions or recordings would help.

In “the ugly,” Pantin said midway through the course he discovered he was the only boy in the class. At first, he was happy and told a friend, but the friend said, “That’s sad.”

Pantin recalls, “He said, ‘These government self-improvement programs are free, all it takes is your time to improve yourself.’ He was very sad because there were no more boys, more young men were trying to do better.

“It’s ugly, while I feel special to be the only male represented, the truth is, there should be more.”

Pantin asked everyone present to encourage young men in programs like With These Hands, thus increasing the number of men in entrepreneurship.



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