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School’s Undergraduates Provide Business Training to Small Business Owners in the Caribbean

June 22, 2011
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Jamaica project

UM School of Business students visit an all-girls elementary school while conducting the Jamaica Project. From left to right: Deborah Moss, Shannon Nurse, Jordan Chadsey, and Kyle Harke

Undergraduate students from the School of Business Administration journeyed back to Jamaica this spring to support entrepreneurship there as part of the School’s ongoing Jamaica Project. Started by the School’s Hyperion Council in 2008, the project provides training to small- and micro- business owners in the island nation.

School of Business students Jordan Chadsey, Kyle Harke, Deborah Moss, and Shannon Nurse conducted this year’s program in Saint Mary, one of Jamaica’s smallest parishes. Commerce in the region primarily revolves around agricultural products such as bananas, cassava, and plantains. Jamaica Producers Group Ltd., a local manufacturing and distribution company that works closely with local food producers, helped organize over 30 farmers and small business owners to participate in the program.

Junior Shannon Nurse, who served as the project leader for this year’s program, helped develop lesson plans to teach program participants the essentials of business. “We focused our lessons on business management, marketing, personal branding, and accounting,” says Nurse. “We also created tests for participants to take at the start and the end of the program to assess what they knew and what they’ve learned.”

The four students participating in this year’s program engaged in what Nurse describes as a “hands-on approach,” examining participants’ bookkeeping practices and advising them on developing a personal brand.  “Jamaica is a country where a business’s success has a lot to do with reputation,” says Nurse. “We visited supermarkets and outdoor markets to see where their products are sold, and taught them how packaging and establishing a personal brand can bring in more revenue, and more business in the future.”

While in Jamaica, students also had the opportunity to meet with former program participants. One woman reported that since her participation in the program last year, her revenue has increased and her business has already expanded into the United States. “She used all the tools we gave her,” says Nurse. “It’s nice to know that by putting the knowledge and skills we learn in school into practice, we’re making a difference.”

The Hyperion Council is a student organization that focuses on developing projects to strengthen bonds between the business and university communities. The council initiates projects that link the university to at-risk communities and promotes important business concepts including market economics, entrepreneurship, personal and financial success, and business ethics to better themselves, their communities and their countries.

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