The T. A. Marryshow Community College – TAMCC, a UNAI member institution in Grenada, an island country in the Caribbean Sea, is one of the vital implementation partners of the US$14 million Climate-Smart Agriculture and Rural Enterprise Programme (SAEP). This initiative, funded by the Government of Grenada, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the International Fund for Agriculture Development -a specialized agency of the United Nations-, is centered on assisting beneficiaries to improve their livelihoods.

The SAEP program started in April 2018, long before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is scheduled to run until the year 2024 as a strategic project. By targeting poverty reduction and the vulnerability of persons in 4,500 households in rural communities, SAEP’s beneficiaries will have improved livelihoods and an increase in resilience. The target groups are those out of the labor market, as well as part-time and full-time smallholder farmers vulnerable to climate change and variability.

As outlined in its mission statement, this institution of higher education is “committed to providing accessible quality education and training opportunities to help individuals achieve their personal and professional goals, and to effectively cater to the dynamic needs of the domestic, regional, and global communities.” Thus, the involvement of the College in this program in particular, is perfectly aligned with that mission and with the overall ideas behind university social and intellectual responsibility.

Beneficiaries of the SAEP program must meet very specific criteria, including having a single head of household, more than three family members per household, one or more unemployed persons among adult family members, and/or one or more adult family members without secondary or tertiary education. TAMCC’s contribution to the project focuses on the Enterprise Business Development (EBD) component, supporting ongoing and start-up businesses in rural areas with young people in mind.

TAMCC provides them with much-needed life skills, vocational training, and vocational certifications. It is expected that capacity building will result in securing long-term employment opportunities in market-driven areas or fields to increase their marketability and potential to earn incomes while taking them out of poverty. The College expects that a minimum of 120 rural youth (40% male and 60% female) will become certified and receive job placement support. To date, the College graduated 38 students.

Those graduates from this unique program have been trained in photovoltaic panel installation, web development, and agro-food processing. As of this moment, there are 97 beneficiaries actively engaged in vocational training, building capacity in wall and floor tiling, general agriculture, and plumbing focused on irrigation and drainage for agriculture. In addition, students are also trained in domestic pipefitting and residential plumbing. By so doing, there are more opportunities for them to become gainfully employed or to stake their claim in entrepreneurship. 

The training initiative is offered at three different campuses to reach rural youth, hence increasing the program's availability. When asked about the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the project, Lorin Alexander-Peters, Dean at the College, explained that they “have delivered and are continuing to deliver despite the several challenges faced with the COVID-19 pandemic.” “The delivery of the program was matched with several sacrifices from everyone involved,” the scholar added.

Nonetheless, the Dean commented, “with the efforts and participation of our dedicated facilitators and trainees, we can meet the needs of our beneficiaries, as we take them from where they are to where they want to go.” Reflecting on the College’s efforts to continue to establish partnerships with the broader community, Ayanna Williams, Coordinator of Resource Mobilization, shared that this kind of project “fosters the integral link between capable rural youth and a community college that is responsive to industry needs.”

“The co-creative process combined with successful project implementation can drive national development by stimulating economic growth through training and deployment of skilled labor while supporting the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Williams. This is actually an example of how tertiary institutions can boost the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly when it comes to Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, and especially in times of a global crisis like the one currently challenging the entire planet.