How This Jamaican Art Company Is Combating Youth Unemployment

Bartleys All in Wood
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A creative approach to combat unemployment

By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor

Jamaican company Bartley’s All In Wood has launched a crowd-funding campaign to increase employment in one of the island’s rural areas while developing their business.

The Mandeville-based family-owned company uses woodworking off-cuts to make art, accessories and souvenirs. According to managing director Lacey-Ann Bartley, Jamaica has one of the highest youth crime rates in the Caribbean, and there is a strong correlation between youth crime and youth unemployment. The five-year-old company has a team of 10 full- and part-timers, all of whom are unskilled young men from the local community, who are taught the art of wood carving and turning.

“Bartley’s offers hope, skills, purpose and an alternative to crime. Not only are we helping stem youth unemployment, but we are also a community business, which means that the income we earn is distributed throughout the community,” Bartley asserts.

The goal of the $3,000 campaign, launched August 1 on isupportjamaica.com, is to allow Bartley’s to employ more local staff and to purchase their own engraving machine so they can keep up with demand for their popular hardwood coasters and cutting boards.

“Why should a guest come to Jamaica and get a souvenir that’s made elsewhere? Our vision is that tourists will come here and by Jamaican gifts made by Jamaican labor from Jamaican wood,” said the 29-year-old entrepreneur.

Backers can contribute as little as $10 to the fund, which expires August 31, and, as a token of appreciation, may receive with their donation (depending on its size) items ranging from key rings to having a tree planted in their name.

“Employment and training provides empowerment and change in these young men’s lives,” said Bartley. “I’m building upon what my father started with the aim of growing [Bartley’s] into a sustainable enterprise that benefits our community and Jamaica.”

For more information or to make a donation, go to isupportjamaica.com or bartleysallinwood.com.