Twenty Kingston residents have completed a leather craft and business development course, enabling them to produce belts, wallets and purses and better enabling them to earn a livelihood.

The two month course, conducted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), drew participants from the inner-city communities of Lauriston, Central Village and Shelter Rock in St Catherine. Developed in partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), it received $1.4 million in funding from the Japan Social Development Fund Grant.

Participants learnt techniques including raw hide preparation, measuring and cutting, pattern making, assembly, edge finishing, surface decoration and stud-setting. On completing the course, they received certificates, craft kits and course material geared towards starting their own businesses. Follow-up visits will be arranged, providing assistance wherever needed.

JBDC technical services manager Colin Porter praised the course for its focus on entrepreneurship and design skills. "It’s one thing to make a leather product but it’s another thing to make a leather product that has the design value to it," he said. "The design value has to be such that it can be compared to any other product coming from any other country."

"This is the start of something new and the essence of something great, and is the start of a [new] beginning in [their] lives," said David Ormsby on behalf of the participants.