Six ‘shops’, referred to as ‘Shops at Glen’ were officially handed over in the community of Glen on September 25.
It is the first of what has been coined a ‘PRYME Empowerment Zone’ and was the first to be handed over for what is anticipated to be similar projects throughout the country.
The first phase of the facility was constructed at a cost of just under $500,000 and features six commercial structures which will house businesses ranging from barber shops to nail salons with the owners of the businesses being PRYME recipients from the community of Glen.
Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance and Parliamentary Representative for East St George said at the launch that PRYME addressed the issue of funding young entrepreneurs, however there was another challenge for most start-up businesses – a suitable location to set up.
And according to Gonsalves, that was what the new facility provided for PRYME recipients.
For as low as EC$5 per month, individuals are now able to operate their business from a central and secure area within the community in which they reside.
“We are providing these locations at this low cost because we want you to succeed, but we also want you to stand as an example to other young businesspeople that you too can try and succeed,” the finance minister said.
The newly constructed facility represented the culmination of the first phase of the project.
Gonsalves explained that the vision was to turn the area into a landmark.
He went on to say that after the police mobile unit was removed from the area, several individuals moved in and began erecting wooden shops, some used tarpaulin to build structures to do business.
“But it became haphazard, so when you drove into Glen, you did not see order, you didn’t see beauty, you saw people who were striving, but you saw that they needed a little help,” Gonsalves said.
So, the second phase of the project will see the construction of 10 vending kiosks – 10 feet by 10 feet which will be built adjacent to the existing facility.
They will be equipped with retractable aluminum doors and offer flexible space for whatever business the tenant desires – whether food, boutiques or barber shops, officials said.
The very individuals who operate businesses at the location will be housed in these kiosks and food and beverage will be allowed to be sold from that location.
“We are going to organize this strip and rationalize this strip, so you do not have a first class and second class on either side of the road,” said Gonsalves.
There were a few requirements for the shop owners, and they included the tenant must operate the shop for what was indicated to the authorities, the sale of illicit items is strictly prohibited and any tenant who locks up his or her shop for a lengthy period will lose that space Gonsalves cautioned.
“Run your business, strive, work with us and we work with you,’ the minister of finance said.
Meanwhile, Anthony Regisford (Chairman of the PRYME Steering Committee and Executive Director of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Commerce said that there needed to be a far broader base of businesspeople to include an assortment of sectors.
“So, we have to move away from this mercantile business structure…move away from the model where people become risk averse [or] competition scared,” Regisford said.
He also encouraged the six occupants to see themselves as businesspeople and not as side hustlers.
“Because if you take on that posture, that’s how you will remain – you will remain a side hustler,” Regisford said. (DD)