April 23, 2019 Hundreds of secondary school students attached to Junior Achievement (JA) transformed Woodford Square, Port of Spain, into a bustling marketplace last Wednesday as they peddled a variety of products at the organisation’s 2019 Annual Trade Fair. The students, drawn from schools across Trinidad, represented 34 companies in Junior Achievement’s signature youth development initiative - After-School Company Programme - with 10 sponsored by JA’s platinum partner, BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT). For Cherise Segulam, Form 4 student of Holy Faith Convent, Couva, and President of Flawless Innovation, sponsored by BPTT, participation in the programme “has been an exciting and rewarding experience” not only for her but the full complement of 26 “employees” of her company. “It has brought out leadership skills in me that I didn’t know I had. It has made us all more confident in our abilities and has certainly helped us grow as young people. We have also learnt about starting and operating a business, and maybe, some of us will actually go into business in the future,” said Segulam. Flawless Innovations offered for sale personal items, such as face masks, bracelets, buttons, costume jewelry and hair dyes. Apart from HFC (Couva), its members represent Presentation College (Chaguanas), Hillview College, ASJA Girls and ASJA Boys (Charlieville), Waterloo Secondary, St. Augustine Government Secondary and Upper level (Chaguanas). Joel Primus, Community Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations Advisor, BPTT, challenged the students to “consider your activity today as a very important pathway for your future. A lot of young people end up simply waiting for a job or hoping the government will give them a job. I urge you to embrace a more rewarding avenue. Consider entrepreneurship as your new normal. Accept this new normal lifestyle to secure your future.” Primus assured the students and Junior Achievement that BPTT would continue “to invest in this space”, pointing out that the company’s involvement in the JA company programme complemented its entrepreneurial training initiatives in its home community of Mayaro and well as its collaboration with the Youth Training and Enterprise Partnership Programme (YTEPP). In addition to BPTT, the 2019 JA Company Programme’s other major sponsors are Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprises Development, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Phoenix Park Gas Processors and Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business. David Moe, Cooperative Development Specialist of the Ministry of Labour, said the ministry wanted to promote the concept of cooperatives to maximise entrepreneurial benefits. “I encourage our young people to aspire, achieve and own your own entrepreneurial space. This programme marks an important starting point. You should embrace the cooperative model where teamwork wins out in the end,” Moe advised. J. Errol Lewis, Executive Director, Junior Achievement Trinidad and Tobago, who has been involved with the organisation for the past 47 years, gave a history of the movement in T&T, noting that it started as a result of the 1970 Black Power revolution, to empower the youths of the country. “A lot of people have made great sacrifices for your benefit over the years. Let it not be a wasted opportunity. I hope this experience will lead one of you to become a Minister of Finance or the next visionary entrepreneur,” he urged the Junior Achievers. The JA Company Programme climaxes later this year with its Unlimited Future Banquet and Award Programme when the top company producers will be announced.