News

Young entrepreneurs get busy

Monte Sonnenberg

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Taina Roberts, left, of Delhi, is one of 40 applicants qualifying for $200 in seed money for an entrepreneurial summer project under Norfolk County’s Student Start Up Program (SSUP). Taina’s Caribbean Cuisine will prepare and deliver authentic Jamaican food on demand. At right is proud mother and adviser Camille Roberts. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer)

Taina Roberts, left, of Delhi, is one of 40 applicants qualifying for $200 in seed money for an entrepreneurial summer project under Norfolk County’s Student Start Up Program (SSUP). Taina’s Caribbean Cuisine will prepare and deliver authentic Jamaican food on demand. At right is proud mother and adviser Camille Roberts. (MONTE SONNENBERG Simcoe Reformer)

If you have always wondered what authentic Jamaican food tastes like but haven’t made it to the Caribbean, Taina Roberts can answer many of your questions.

 

The 15-year-old from Delhi has hung out a shingle this summer, one that says Taina’s Caribbean Cuisine.

Give Taina a dingle and she will whip you up a batch of authentic Jamaican patties, rice and peas, and spiced meats that will make your brow sweat and your mouth water.

“I’ll take orders mostly on the Internet,” says the tech-savvy teen. “The food will be delivered through a certified kitchen. The jerk chicken is really good. The spices are straight from Jamaica.”

Norfolk County and area businesses want Taina and young entrepreneurs like her to succeed. Last week, Norfolk’s economic development department followed through with $8,000 in start-up money for 46 aspiring business kids. That’s $200 apiece for each summer enterprise.

The purpose of the program is to get young people in Norfolk thinking about becoming their own bosses and job creators. Thursday’s recipients were selected from 85 applications. The program applies to youths in grades 6 to 12.

“We’re looking for youth who are willing to think outside the box,” said program co-ordinator Jerry Sucharyna, an economic development analyst with Norfolk County. “Youth has the vim, the vigour, the spark. They are the entrepreneurs of the future.”

This year, Norfolk’s economic development department raised seed money by passing the hat to area businesses. The response was enthusiastic. Mayor Charlie Luke gave a shout-out to participating businesses at Governor Simcoe Square.

“The response from the business community was bang, bang, bang,” Luke said. “Getting kids engaged and letting them try things on their own is the most important thing. Work hard and enjoy.”

Some of the successful applicants will pursue traditional summer jobs such as yard maintenance, baby sitting, and selling produce and refreshments at roadside stands. Other youths have set more exotic challenges for themselves.

Successful applications include selling bagged ice, native tree species, worms and home-made soy and natural candles.

For her part, Alexandria Cox, 12, of Simcoe, has borrowed an idea from her mother’s kitchen and will try her hand at dehydrated fruit. Items on the menu include strawberries, bananas and pineapple among other offerings.

“I always thought that was interesting,” Cox said after collecting her $200 cheque. “I thought that would be an interesting way to make money.”

Hayden Miller-Cluckie, 12, of Simcoe, has dubbed his business “Wood’nt It Be Nice.” Miller-Cluckie will spend the next two months burning and engraving attractive images into wood tags and ornaments and hawking them to the consuming public.

“I had a wood burner but I never used it,” he said. “Now I have a use for it in my business.”

The county’s Student Start Up Program (SSUP) comes with a bonus round. Recipients who file an analysis of their efforts with Norfolk’s economic development department at the end of August are eligible for a $100 top-up.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com