St. Thomas Trade Organization Cooperative Company : empowering young women of St. Thomas

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Southern New Hampshire University
The purpose of this project has been to work with the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF), Morant Bay Outreach Centre, to establish a Sewing Cooperative with the teen mothers that are enrolled in the center. The teen mothers would be trained in garment construction and soft furnishing sewing projects to be sold in the community, the tourist market and oversees markets. The revenue generated from the sewing cooperative will be used to financially assist the teen mothers and to continue operating the cooperative as a successful, ongoing business. The Morant Bay Centre currently has 18 teen mothers attending its skills training programs. These young women and my organization, Edu-Tourism for St.Thomas, will be working closely with the WCJF head office to develop a comprehensive training plan that will assist in implementing the cooperative initiative. There has been fundraising in the United States by various Jamaican-x\American organizations as well as seeking support from various grants. The WCJF will also conduct fundraising events to provide funds to reconstruct the physical building at the Morant Bay Centre that was destroyed during the 2004 hurricane season. The sewing cooperative is the first of its kind in the parish, initiated and operated by the young women of the Morant Bay. The project is intended as a community empowerment project targeted to the young women by offering additional skills training, economic resources and a support system that will encourage their positive growth. The WCJF and Edu-Tourism will work with the teen mothers to develop their level of sewing skills. Edu-Tourism will develop a set of training modules to teach the women cooperatives principals, business development and financial literacy. All partners in the project will be involved in fundraising, assisting in implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the project at the WCJF Morant Bay Outreach Centre. The project is being evaluated based on the following measures (a) the increase in sewing knowledge and skill level, (b) the knowledge of cooperative principals and formation of a cooperative business structure, (c) the ability to exercise skills in financial literacy, (d) how empowered the young women feel from starting and operating a cooperative and the lessons they learned from the experience. (Author abstract)