Basseterre, St. Kitts (July 18, 2016) — Local small scale entrepreneur, Ms Asha Julius, with the assistance of the Fresh Start Programme offered by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis has tested the water and succeeded, and has vowed to make it an annual event.
The CEO of One Stop Party Spot, Ms Julius is well known in party circles as her company has been organising parties and doing a good job at that. But when she decided to broaden her business she thought of the nation’s children who need more attention when they are out of school and came up with the idea of hosting a summer camp for children.
“I went to Development Bank to get a small business loan to broaden my small business, to get the equipment, such as the bouncing castle and stuff to cater for the kids because my main interest was in the children,” said Ms Julius.
Ms Asha Julius is one of the more than 200 persons who have benefitted from the Fresh Start Programme offered by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis and because of that bold partnership, a total of 75 children aged between 3-11 have since Monday July 11 been attending a summer camp at the St. Johnston’s Community Centre.
“This is the first time we tested the water on the camp and I can assure you from the first camp it will be an annual event,” said Ms Julius. “I did it because the parents were asking for somewhere for the kids to go, so I just sat down and decided this is what I am going to do and it took me like a month to have a few sponsors including the Development Bank who sponsored a portion of the camp.”
According to Ms Julius, she advertised the camp through social media and word of mouth and is overwhelmed by the great response as the children have come from all the corners of the island and are having a whale of a time as they are being looked after by cheerful camp supervisors. The two-week camp ends on Friday July 22.
“This is just a way to get the kids off the streets and out of trouble,” said Ms Julius. “This has been possible because the Development Bank stepped in to assist me. Yes, Development Bank has really done a great number on my business and I am really grateful for all they have done, and continue to do to support my business.
“Right now we have about 75 kids, which is a lot for the first camp. The children come from the entire island… St. Paul’s, Sandy Point, Tabernacle … Parents drop the kids and I take some of them in the afternoon and the rest are picked up by their parents. We provide food and snacks for them so they do not have to leave the premises.”
While parents who would have sent their children to the summer camp at the St. Johnston’s Community Centre feel that Ms Julius’ intervention is timely, staff at the Business Support Unit of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis see Ms Julius as one person who does not contend with remaining in the box but one who seeks to venture outside the box.
Business Support Officer, Ms Jasmin Primus, explained that when Ms Julius came to the bank seeking for a Fresh Start Programme loan to expand her business, she had an impressive business plan in hand and the fact that it incorporated children the business venture was deemed to be one that would succeed.
“From the bank standpoint, we are quite open to discussing diverse business initiatives,” said Ms Primus. “We understand growth in any business venture once the proprietor is disciplined to maintain that business. The Development Bank looks for serious clients who are not going for quick gains, people who are dedicated to building their business ventures.
“Ms Julius is no different and her business is with the youth. The youth are the future of the nation whether in economic growth or social growth as these are the businessmen and businesswomen of tomorrow. So once you could support something to build a foundation for youths, the bank is always ready to put their best foot forward with anything like that.”
It is not all play at the St. Johnston’s Community Centre summer camp for children organised by Ms Asha Julius. One of the presenters last week was Officer Lauston Percival, Founder and President of Operations Future, who came with a mirror and asked the children to hold it and look at themselves.
“What we do, we have the children come and stand in front of the mirror, recite their name, their age and twenty years from today or whenever we have the presentation what do they see themselves doing, and of course you will hear a police officer, teacher, fire officer, mechanical engineer, a whole host of occupations,” said Officer Percival.
“But what you do not hear them saying, they want to be a prisoner, or they want to be dead, or they want to be paralysed because of criminal activities, because people do not set out to do these things. But of course when we make decisions that are not good decisions, these things end up happening to us. So we are basically asking the children to make sure that they make good decisions because good decisions can only have positive outcome.”
There will be a closing ceremony to be held on Friday July 22 for St. Johnston’s Community Centre summer camp and participants will be awarded certificates of attendance.