Valedictorian: Gregory Pantin and his 3D prints of local icons. Photo by Nicholas Maraj
Fifty-five people began the Ministry of Sports and Community Development’s Entrepreneurship Development Management Programme, also known as With These Hands. Thirty-eight participants graduated, 37 women and one man.
Deputy director of community development Omadaye Beesan said the programme focused on craft and what people make with their hands.
It involved three months’ training with NEDCO in small business development and four weeks with the Export Centre Company Ltd in 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 the various fields come in and chat with the trainees. They told them about how they could build their businesses, the challenges, advice to progress, they entertained the questions from the trainees. And that was a successful two days.”
Participants were instructed to produce new products or services, or improve on existing ones.
Gregory Pantin was the lone man who graduated. Previously a draughtsman, he produces 3D prints of local icons like Calypso Rose and Black Stalin, as well as folklore legends. He hopes to gain traction during the 2022/2023 tourism season.
Pantin provided a testimonial on behalf of his class.
“Seventy per cent 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 is a gauge of who in Trinidad wants to better themselves, and what gender makes up the majority of micro-entrepreneurial companies in TT.”
He discussed the nature of the course and its extensive contents, and then gave a review of “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
“The good is: this was a fully realised and executed online programme during the covid19 pandemic. The bad: the same problems with virtual participation experienced everywhere also plagued this programme – communication, dissemination of information and access to online devices and internet – but the programme will move to in-person from next year.
“The good,” he said, to raucous applause: “This programme was 100 per cent, worth our time. No participant can say that their time was wasted in class as every session brought invaluable information to each and everyone of us.”
He said the course might have been too compact, and additional sessions or recordings would have been helpful.
On “the ugly,” Pantin said halfway through the course he discovered he was the only man in the class. Initially, he was pleased and told a friend, but the friend said, “That was sad.”
Pantin recalled, “He said, ‘These government self-improvement programmes are free, all it takes is your time to make yourself better.’ He was very upset there were not more men, more young men making an effort to do better.
“The ugly is, 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 into programmes like With These Hands, so the number of men in entrepreneurship increases.