Lessons in life and business aim to inspire six students of EntrepreNow

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                              Enterprise Zone Commission wraps up five-week summer entrepreneurship program on St. Thomas with graduation ceremony

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands - September 18, 2018 - The U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) announces that six young men ranging from ages 15-19 recently graduated from the five-week summer entrepreneurship program, EntrepreNow, which was created to inspire an entrepreneurship mindset among young men in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The EntrepreNow graduation ceremony was held on Friday, August 31, 2018 at E's Garden Teahouse and Things in Garden Street on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

EntrepreNow was designed to assist young men in learning about their personal and professional interests, visualizing their educational future, and setting personal and professional goals.  This program also helped these graduates, also known as the “Gentlemen of EntrepreNow”, to learn about public speaking, leadership skills, the basics of preparing and presenting business proposals and marketing their products and services. This year, the Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also had the opportunity to engage with various community leaders and political representatives in our Territory.  

“This has truly been a journey for these young men.   I consider these young men to be my family”, said Nadine Marchena Kean, director of the Enterprise Zone Commission. “And it is certainly fulfilling to see another group of young men complete this program as a significant step for success in their lives,” added Mrs. Marchena Kean.

EntrepreNow is the brainchild of the Enterprise Zone Commission (EZC), an entity of the USVIEDA that is responsible for the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods that were once vibrant centers of economic activity in the Territory.  Established in July 2016, EntrepreNow was created in partnership with the Office of the Territorial Public Defender of the U.S. Virgin Islands; the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services; and the local, non-profit organization Youth Arise, Inc., for young men ages 15 through 19. 

At the graduation ceremony, the Gentlemen of EntrepreNow - Ja'Haile Clendinen, Makim Archibald, Tasheem Monsanto, Ahyjah Lambertis, Konasha Griffith and Anthony Gerson - spoke briefly about their experience and thanked individuals who supported them during the program. The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also received words of encouragement from Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., USVIEDA assistant chief executive officer and chief operating officer; Dr. Arlene Smith Christopher of Youth Arise, Inc.; and Raheem Smith, enterprise zone specialist.  These graduates also heard a testimonial from a 2017 graduate of EntrepreNow, Claudius Abraham, Jr., who is currently enrolled as a civil engineering major at the University of the Virgin Islands.

The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow received Certificates of Achievement from the USVIEDA and the Office of Virgin Islands Senator Jeanette Millin-Young.

During this five-week program, which began at the end of July 2018, the Gentlemen of EntrepreNow participated in classroom sessions and selected the following career tracks they desired to pursue:  oceanography, video game developer, a baker, electronics repairs and trucking businesses.  The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also visited the University of the Virgin Islands with a tour conducted by Kelani Rivers.

In addition to the UVI tour, the young men learned about business basics from Darryl Edwards of Straightpath Consulting, LLC; and shadowed local entrepreneurs Taj Siwatu of Buddha Sushi and Jeffrey Richardson of Xquizit Jewelers.  The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also met with business persons Reggie Vigilante of OmniSystems, Inc.; Rashidi Clenance of ViVid Streaming; and Jason Charles of Alpine Securities who all shared stories about their own challenges and successes during their journey to becoming and being business owners or leaders.  

The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also competed among themselves for having the best business plan during a simulation of the popular business reality television series, “Shark Tank”, which is broadcasted on CNBC.

To engage with local community leaders, the Gentlemen of EntrepreNow also visited the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.  These young men also had an opportunity to host their own USVI gubernatorial candidate forum in which they prepared for, and asked questions of, the candidates.

The Gentlemen of EntrepreNow participated in tours of Fort Christian in St. Thomas led by Sean Krigger of the USVI State Historic Preservation Office and the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) Fire Department led by Fire Chief Adrian Kean.  Cardow Jewelers and In Search Of, LLC, donated gifts and transportation services, respectively.

To learn more, contact Nadine Marchena Kean, director of the Enterprise Zone Commission, at 340-714-1700, ext. no. 256; or send an email to info@usvieda.org .

 

About  the U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority.   The U.S. Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (USVIEDA) is a semi-autonomous governmental instrumentality [of the Government of the Virgin Islands] that was created on February 1, 2001.  It is responsible for the promotion and enhancement of economic development of the United States Virgin Islands. The USVIEDA assumes, integrates and unifies the functions of these four entities:  Economic Development Commission, Virgin Islands Economic Development Park Corporation, Economic Development Bank and the Enterprise Zone Commission.  The USVIEDA accomplishes its mission by attracting multi-national investors to the Territory to establish or relocate their business in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It also provides financial assistance for new and existing small to medium-sized businesses in the Territory and assists V.I. residents and business owners with rehabilitating their properties located in blighted and distressed areas that were once vibrant economic centers of activity in the Territory.  Learn more about the USVIEDA at www.usvieda.org ; or send an email to info@usvieda.org .# # #