The GARD Center has functioned over the years in a national environment that lacks a business culture, where programmes and services were focused on job creation and did not include entrepreneurship. The Center’s available resources allowed limited entrepreneurial training only- access to credit through a revolving loan fund, and business plan development. New entrepreneurs, on leaving the programme, had ‘to source assistance on their own in an environment with limited support services from Government or other agencies.’
GARD Center seeks to address this gap in support services to its young entrepreneurial graduates with special focus on vulnerable women and therefore will develop its capacity to do so through the establishment of a Business Development Unit (BDU).
It envisages a BDU that provides ‘post training’ services which cater to the special needs of women, help to build their self-esteem and confidence and lead to greater control of their destiny. It is expected also that the BDU will help the Center to foster closer linkages with the Caribbean Group of Youth Business Trusts, of which it is now a member.
• VISION- ‘To enhance the business culture of Antigua and Barbuda through the provision of business services to new and existing entrepreneurs.’
• MISSION- ‘To improve the income generating capacities of vulnerable young women in Antigua and Barbuda through the provision of gender-responsive vocational and entrepreneurial training and identified support services.’
The BDU is described as a ‘one stop shop’ training center and business services provider for new and existing entrepreneurs. The BDU is sensitive to gender issues. It will be the main facilitator for all follow up business development services and will monitor the progress of the new ‘entrepreneur.’
Other services of the BDU are:
- To provide gender sensitization training to our stakeholders.
- To provide necessary tools for knowledge, skills proficiency leading to employment, expansion of careers, etc.
- To make available books, reports on pertinent surveys, and such resources for business development opportunities.
- Operational and strategic business services.
- The use of information and communications in business, management of accounts and tax records, business planning and assistance with compliance with various regulations.
- Strategic services in identifying and servicing markets, designing products, setting up facilities, and seeking financing.
- Matching entrepreneurs with business mentors for up to three years if required who would provide guidance, moral support, assistance in setting up networks, etc.