When Trudy-Ann Burke’s common-law husband died leaving her with four school-aged children to raise, she thought life couldn’t get harder. And then the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Jamaica.
Suddenly, the small home-based day-care that Trudy-Ann ran to support her children was ordered closed as the Government placed preventative measures on businesses and individuals to combat the spread of the disease.
Trudy-Ann began to lose hope.
A few miles away from Trudy-Ann’s Portmore-based shuttered day-care, Okeam Thompson sat with a small white envelope in his hands while stroking his daughter’s hair. His son played with a truck at his feet. The envelope contained his last pay cheque from a company he had worked with for five years. They too had to close their doors because of the continuous decline in sales due to Covid-19.
Scores of Jamaicans have similar stories to Trudy-Ann and Okeam. Since Jamaica’s first reported case of the virus in March, many Jamaicans have lost their jobs, with the hotel and BPO sectors being hardest hit.
However, approximately 1,400 Jamaicans, including Trudy-Ann and Okeam have been given renewed hope of taking care of their families, thanks to a partnership between Internet Income Jamaica (IIJ) and the N.C.B. Foundation to provide training for online employment to Jamaicans who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
The initiative, known as the NCB Level Up Grant Programme, began in June and has since given participants access to IIJ’s coveted suite of online courses as well as mentorship, personalised branding sessions, business and financial management advice.
The participants, who have access to the courses in online entrepreneurship, have already started seeing results in just under three weeks of starting the programme. To date, some of the students have already secured clients in their first few weeks and have collectively earned close to $10,200.00 USD (1,500,000.00 JMD)
Trudy-Ann has earned approximately ($68,000 JMD) $462.00 USD in her first two weeks of offering virtual assistant services to a myriad of international clients, some of whom have become long-term.
“I can’t thank IIJ or NCB enough for this grant programme. I’m no longer a worried young mother but an online entrepreneur, earning more than enough to take care of my kids and even start back-to-school shopping early. This has been the opportunity of a lifetime” she says.
Okeam, who specializes in social media management secured his first long-term client in his first week after training and has earned approximately (54,000 JMD) $370.00 USD in under three weeks.
“My father died when I was younger and I struggled growing up. I don’t want that for my kids. This grant program has given me the opportunity to work for myself and earn a decent income to properly take care of my children. This is my main source of income and it’s been truly great,” says Okeam.
Alicia Lyttle, CEO of IIJ says the initiative is part of the company’s thrust and commitment to give all Jamaicans the opportunity to participate in an ever-increasing global marketplace.
“This is one of the best times to start an online business,” she says, “many companies have been forced to take their operations online and are looking for remote workers to carry out varied and numerous tasks. This has created an overflow of jobs, even for the internet newbie.”
She also points out that the programme has not been biased toward age, education level or gender.
“Our programmes are aimed at all Jamaicans who want to become online entrepreneurs so this grant programme has opened doors to persons who have just left high school to near-retirement. We have structured all our courses to be as simple as possible and use real-world examples to showcase use of platforms and tools. Whatever we teach is exactly what students can use to start earning immediately. There is no gap between the classroom and application,” Lyttle says.
IIJ’s relationship with the N.C.B. Foundation has been a longstanding one but this is the first such partnership between the companies.
“Our mission is help Jamaicans live their best lives through the freedom of entrepreneurship. NCB, as a company, has always been aligned with our mission and vision, so it was a no-brainer to partner with them. They have also caught the wind of change that the covid-19 pandemic has brought with it and together, we are encouraging our people to level up to this normal and help to build a better Jamaica using technology in a global marketplace,” Lyttle says.
The NCB Level Up Grant Programme partnership will end on Wednesday, August 5 with a virtual graduation as well as a social media takeover of the Foundation’s pages by IIJ.
Internet Income Jamaica is a training company providing local Jamaicans with the knowledge, skills, and tools to leverage the power of the Internet to earn money online from a global economy.
Contact us –
1 (876) 960-0207
or on whatsapp 1 (876) 880-9406