Charlestown, Nevis — Nevisian proprietors of Judith Catering Services, Mr Wrenford and Mrs Judith Dore, know what it means to struggle to make a small business stand on its own and they know what it means to be afforded a financial boost to uplift that business.
Mrs Judith Dore is one of the around 100 women in Nevis who have benefited from grants given by the People Employment Programme (PEP), under its Women in Small Enterprise (WISE) project, to businesswomen in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“I applied for the WISE grant because PEP stood out to assist women in small businesses to realise their dreams,” explained Mrs Dore. “The amount of which half is a grant and half is a loan assisted me get the needed equipment to grow my business. It was equipment that we needed so badly and we did not have enough funds accumulated, so it helped me greatly.”
Mrs Dore who has been running the Judith Catering Services after her shop in Gingerland closed a few years back, currently has the contract to run the canteen at the fast growing upscale employer, Brown Hill Communications in Brown Hill, Nevis.
“We cater for weddings, parties, small functions, church functions and conferences etc.,” said Mrs Dore. “I took over the running of the canteen at Brown Hill Communications from 2009. We serve full meals for the staff at the centre, and even people from outside can come. I received my grant in November last year.
“I would encourage other women to take up the challenge and apply to get some funds so that they could enhance their business and help grow the country economically. WISE is a great help. It is very good as it has assisted many women who would otherwise be struggling.”
According to Mr Wrenford Dore, who acts as the manager and dish washer of Judith Catering Services, the company was struggling to raise enough funds to employ a worker. The entire island of Nevis was faced by a great unemployment and he feels that the People Employment Programme (PEP) was God-sent as many persons were able to be placed on jobs.
“My wife is the genius when it comes to cooking, and so whatever else that needs to be done in terms of support, in terms of talking to people, and marketing as it relates to the business, I assist,” said Mr Dore.
“We went to PEP because of what it was offering, as we knew that it would have given some people the opportunity to get employment by attaching them to various organisations. This was an opportunity for us to manage our funds a little better, and make a little more money.”
Initially two PEP workers were attached to Judith Catering Services at the canteen in Brown Hill, but for reasons related to work ethics, one has already left and they have one PEP worker, Ms Elise Watts, who is doing an excellent job while she is equipping herself professionally for her future survival.
Mr Dore noted that the way things were in Nevis, there was not much going round and it was as a result very difficult for people in small businesses to save. But with PEP and through its project, WISE, it enables persons take care of their basic needs. He singles out the fact that he has an employee who has a guaranteed salary from PEP.
“I feel PEP is a God-sent opportunity for people, since I am in Nevis and so particularly for Nevis, because before PEP there was a lot of unemployment,” observed Mr Dore. “The Federal Government, under Prime Minister the Rt Hon Dr Denzil Douglas, must be congratulated for the initiative and I think that persons are grateful. At least they can pay their bills, and help themselves in some small way.”
According Ms Kerlyn Jones, PEP Coordinator for Nevis, WISE seeks to empower prospective and existing women in small enterprises through the provision of micro-finance grant support of up to $5,000 for enterprise development and through training micro-enterprise management. Of the amounts provided, an entrepreneur is expected to pay back only half of the amount, interest free.
“So far, around 100 women have received WISE money in Nevis, of varied amounts $2,500 to $5,000,” explained Ms Jones. “Over the past few months a lot of them have expressed how grateful they are for the WISE Fund. They have used it in different ways.
“Some who had small snackettes have used it to purchase necessary items that they needed for the snackette, like a more restaurant-like stove, or they have used it to buy products that they desperately needed but they couldn’t afford for the business. So we are quite happy to see that the funds did not go to waste.”
The PEP Coordinator for Nevis said that businesswomen who got the WISE grants have started repaying half of the funds as required, and noted that while it started as a slow process, it has picked up as they now have a person specifically assigned to collect the funds.
“The businesswomen are quite willing to come and repay the money,” said Ms Jones. “We are happy for that, and with the repayment of the money we hope that we will be able to disburse more funds afterwards to other needy businesswomen in Nevis.”