From Remand Center To Renewed Hope
USAID is helping young people in Jamaica find “New Paths” through entrepreneurship
Two months, one week, and five days: that was how long 20-year-old Kadian Lewis spent at the South Camp Juvenile Remand and Correctional Center in Kingston back in 2018.
“Peer pressure caused me to go astray and my mother just wanted me back on track. My mother tried guidance counselling, she tried everything she could until the day came she had to send me off to the center,” she said.
Anne-Marie Harris, Kadian’s mother, added: “Sending my daughter off to South Camp was tough love, loving her but still seeing her going down a path I did not want her to go. I had to make the decision and after making that decision I still supported her every step of the way.”
However what seemed to be a dark tunnel when she entered the facility turned out to be a shining light in the end.
While at the center, Kadian was recommended by the correctional facility for a USAID- sponsored “Pitch It! Learning and Investing in Your Future” entrepreneurship competition, part of USAID’s New Path project. Pitch It! provides young people with entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and financial support to generate income.
Participants present their business ideas to a panel of judges who pick the best ideas and award grants to individual and group winners to set up microbusinesses. Through the project, USAID seeks to help prepare at-risk and marginalized youth who are in remand centers and state care facilities for successful reintegration into society.
Kadia wrote up and successfully pitched her business plan to a panel of judges in 2018. Her idea: start a car wash in her local neighborhood, enabling clients to use her services without having to travel miles to the nearest car wash. Soon after, she learned she had won.
Kadian left South Camp Juvenile later that year with capital to start her own business and a renewed hope in life. On June 9, 2019, she opened Kay-Dane’s Sparkling Car Wash, which services Old Harbour Bay, in the parish of St Catherine. Her services include washing and detailing cars with taxis being her most popular clients.
Kadian along with her two employees have washed close to 2,000 cars since opening, and her dream is to further expand her business with a food court or lyming area (a rest area) for customers while their vehicles are being serviced. She is continuing on her new path and planning for her future…with hope.
“I would like to be a better and bigger entrepreneur. I would like to see my business grow and offer more services such as mechanical services. It is my hope that one day I will have an international car wash chain, not just here in Jamaica,” said Kadian.
And the mom who never doubted her daughter is thrilled.
“Now I am a proud mother because I have seen the change and growth within her,” her mom says. “I have seen where all the stakeholders took the time to help her so that she could accomplish something that I could have given her. I am a very proud mother.”
About This Program: From 2014–2020, more than 2,400 juveniles in Jamaica benefited from USAID’s support under A New Path, a project of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). Other youth have gone on to open their own businesses in farming, retail, tailoring, and videography. Since 2010, the United States has worked with Caribbean governments through CBSI to reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen security, and address the root causes of crime and violence in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The initiative advances common security objectives in the Caribbean, focusing on the most at-risk youth and communities.
About the Author
Kimberley Weller is the Development Outreach and Communications Specialist for USAID’s Mission in Jamaica.