Student consulting program at all-time high

The student teams meet and get to know the business owners for the first time.

The number of students and small businesses taking part in the Ministry of Commerce’s Student Consulting Program reached record numbers this year.

Seven small business and 19 students are involved in this year’s 10-week program, which began in mid-February. The program matches businesses with upper-level business studies students at the University College of the Cayman Islands, who offer free advice and consultation.

This year marks the highest participation rate for both students and businesses since the program’s inception 10 years ago, according to organizers.

The program is a partnership between the Ministry of Commerce, UCCI and Cayman National Bank.

This year is also the first year that some of the businesses have been owned by UCCI alumni and, in another first, by teenagers.

Commerce Minister Joey Hew said in a press release that the program is “just one way in which the Ministry is working to encourage and develop businesses. I’m so pleased with the high number of participants this year and am excited to see how their business will grow.”

Program coordinator Annette Murphy, who is a senior lecturer at UCCI, said the initiative is a benefit to all parties. “This really is a win-win for everyone. The collaborative nature of the program means that students gain real work experience, while businesses gain free consultation,” she said.

Jade Barnard, 13, said she is participating because she wants to see her business grow. She and her 15-year-old brother Luke own a recycling company. “More people have wanted to join in with our company and we want to employ other teenagers, so we want to learn how we can expand our business.”

Student Brandon Glasgow said he is looking forward to jumping into the process. “It’s exciting to go from the textbook knowledge to practical knowledge. I’m ready to see and implement the theory we’ve been learning in class.”