KINGSTON, Jamaica, W.I. – Heeding the call of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League’s challenge here, Churches Co-operative Credit Union is doing its part to create more small businesses here. The credit union just launched an entrepreneurial project that will provide $1 million to three university students who produce viable business plans. The winning students will receive $250,000 with another $250,000 set aside as stipend for a highly-qualified mentor who will guide the students in developing their businesses, according to Basil Naar, general manager of Churches Co-op CU. Business students from the University of Technology, Northern Caribbean University and the University of the West Indies will be eligible to apply for the funding which will be presented to the winning applicants next year. Winners must intend to go into business within six months of the announcement of the award. They must also maintain a minimum B average and become members of Churches Co-op CU. Elon Beckford, a former banker and proprietor of KS Chemical Distributors Limited here, will serve as the mentor, the CU announced. Beckford, who is also a member of Churches Co-op CU, said he will donate his stipend to his church, which will use the funds to finance a series of business clubs previously formed to encourage entrepreneurship among residents of local communities. The Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League and island officials here recently called on credit unions to help create up to 30,000 small to medium-sized businesses over the next three years.

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