GARD Center Launches Business Development Unit

The Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center) in partnership with the European Union on 7th March, 2013 launched its Business Development Unit, a critical component of its latest project – The Empowerment of Vulnerable Young Women in Antigua and Barbuda in Their Income Generation (YWEP).
The Business Development Unit will  be a one-stop venue providing  a number of support services to GARD Center graduates of the Entrepreneurial stream of the YWEP programme as well as to other vulnerable young women seeking to start or develop their own enterprises.  It will offer training, advisory services and access to funding.  The services will initially be offered from the GARD Center’s head office at Mercer’s Creek and will then be transferred to a convenient location in St.  John’s later in the year.
The Business Development Unit was launched as part of a recently held forum called ‘Going Against the Grain’ which featured a panel of women who have either successfully started their own businesses or engaged in fulfilling vocations, many in the traditional male dominated areas.  The presenters which included an egg farmer, plumber, disc jockey, graphic artist, architect, caterer and construction engineer all rendered captivating and poignant life stories about their passion for their chosen careers and their grit and determination in overcoming various obstacles in order to be successful.  Some key issues that were brought to the fore included the challenges of operating a small business, overcoming gender stereo-typing and the importance of training and education.
A number of young women who attended the event spoke of it as being an encouraging and inspiring experience and are looking forward to further pursuing courses at GARD Center to prepare them for their own endeavours. Also in attendance at the event were the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Errol Samuel; president of the Employers Federation, Mr. Acres Stowe and representatives from the Directorate of Gender Affairs. The event was co-sponsored by CIBC First Caribbean International Bank and Community First Cooperative Credit Union.
According to the Executive Director of GARD Center, Roberta Williams: “We thought it important to formally launch the BDU as part of a forum such as this to highlight to our young women that they too can defy the odds and be anything they want to be.”  She further stated: “It is critical that our young women start believing in themselves and thinking outside of the box in order to grasp the myriad opportunities for income generation.”
This project is funded by the European Union

GARD Center and the European Commission in a $EC 1.6 million Partnership to Empower Women

The Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center), is pleased to announce its latest partnership with the European Commission.  The two year project entitled “Empowerment of Young Women of Antigua and Barbuda in their Income Generation” is one of the largest grants ever awarded to an NGO in Antigua and Barbuda. This European Union grant is in the amount of 1.3 million EC$ (380,002.54 EUR).
The project will target over 200 young women up to the age of 35 years, increasing their ability to source jobs and or establish their own enterprises.  Working with vulnerable women who are unemployed and underemployed poses many challenges. The GARD Center hopes to address these challenges through the combination of training, work placement and other support services.
The women wanting to start their own business will have access to business development services provided by the GARD Center’s upcoming expanded Business Development Unit.  Other project objectives will bring attention to gender stereotyping in vocational choices of women and carrying out activities to encourage women to enter into the more male dominated employment and entrepreneurial areas. The public and strategic agencies will also be engaged to discuss and examine the issues confronting vulnerable women, and the strategies to overcome them.
This project commenced in January 2013. The GARD Center for 23 years has been working with young people with a special focus on women in offering entrepreneurial, technical and vocational training with job placement services.
The Board and staff of the GARD Center are truly grateful to the European Commission for this invaluable partnership as it continues to equip the young women of Antigua and Barbuda with skills to make them more competitive in the global marketplace.