IsraAID Dominica (IsraAID) commits to working with partners to support 25 young entrepreneurs in Dominica in developing, operating, and sustaining business enterprises through a training program. The program will equip entrepreneurs with skills, knowledge, and experience in developing and running viable businesses.
IsraAID will recruit participants with the support of Dominica’s Youth Development Division, and its network of Youth Officers along with IsraAID’s community mobilizers. Recruitment activities will include community outreach, features on radio programs, and advertisement through local and social media. IsraAID will conduct interviews and focus on ensuring a gender balance during the selection process.
The program includes hackathon-style incubator activities covering innovation, creativity, teamwork, and global innovative social business ideas. IsraAID will conduct 12 workshops which will cover how to develop robust business plans, including building budgets, perfect a business pitch, and secure investment. IsraAID will also recruit local successful business owners on island so that all participants can join a six-month mentorship program. Mentoring, and biweekly training and workshops will cover challenges facing business owners in local communities, as well as self-care and practical disaster risk reduction practices, in order to ensure businesses are climate resilient. Participants from the same community will be encouraged to work in partnership and develop their business ideas together. At the end of the program, students will have the opportunity to present their business pitch to a group of stakeholders and receive feedback.
With support from the Beverly Foundation, four groups of participants with innovative business ideas will receive $1,000 to $5,000 USD as seed funding for their business. IsraAID and partners will monitor participant business implementation, and conduct evaluations three, six and 12 months after program completion.
Through this commitment, IsraAID aims to enable these entrepreneurs to generate income and enhance the local job market, whilst effecting social change in their communities.
January 2019: Open application period and conduct interviews; Recruit suitable local mentors for participants.
February-April 2019: Select students; Conduct initial mentoring and training on micro-business plan development, and skills including marketing, branding, accounting, and personal finance.
April-June 2019: Enter seed funding phase, supporting young people to find other sources of income; Mentoring continues.
January to August 2019: Continuous monitoring and evaluation by IsraAID team to assure quality and sustainability of micro-business, assessing larger impact on community and local environment.
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria stuck Dominica as a category five storm with winds of 160mph, impacting all 72,000 people on the island. The storm severely affected all sectors of the region’s economy including agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism. More specifically, the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by the World Bank and a consortium of partner agencies, concluded that Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of EC$2.51 billion (US$931 million) and losses of EC$1.03 billion (US$382 million), which is 226 percent of 2016’s gross domestic product (GDP).
One year after Hurricane Maria, Dominica is still recovering from the devastating effects of the hurricane. Although the situation is starting to normalize, the remote communities of the South East side of Dominica struggle to maintain a routine. Many have lost their livelihood and sources of income, particularly within agriculture and tourism. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) reported that agriculture on the island was 100% destroyed; and the lack of communications across the island and basic infrastructure continues to create quality of life challenges.
Even before the storm, there were serious economic challenges. In 2016, Dominica’s unemployment rate was 23%, the third highest in the Caribbean at the time. With limited opportunities even before the storm, Dominica’s young people are tempted to emigrate, seeking employment opportunities and a better future. More than 60% of Dominica’s population is considered youth, and therefore this target audience is a growing force for economic development of the island. To help combat unemployment, more career-based opportunities are needed to build the necessary training and skills young people need to participate in the local job market, and strengthen the island’s economy.