By Caroline Sachdeva
“I believe each individual is unique and possesses greatness within them,” says Janese Henderson.
Janese, a 2017 YLAI Professional Fellow, is the founder of Jan’s Empowerment Institute (JEI) in Antigua and Barbuda. She works tirelessly to aid in the development of the full potential of her community and empower others to find economic independence. Janese believes in the importance of perseverance in entrepreneurial ventures and to always look for the positive in tough situations.
The YLAI Network spoke with Janese to learn more about her goals for her community and how adaptability in the global pandemic has impacted her reach.
The importance of persistence
“I am from humble beginnings,” Janese states. Growing up in an inner-city community of St. Catherine, Jamaica, she saw her community experiencing low education rates. Her parents instilled in her the importance of education, good morals and values. They also encouraged Janese to experience entrepreneurship from an early age by working with her mother selling clothing to supplement their income. Janese learned the importance of persistence and that failure is never final.
Janese says that a teacher, Mrs. Menzie, showed her the value of a mentoring relationship in her youth. With Mrs. Menzie’s encouragement, Janese pursued studies toward a degree at the University of Technology in Jamaica. Janese also had a love of baking and cake decorating, so she started teaching cake decorating from her home. This venture, along with her studies, made Janese recognize the greater need for mentoring and entrepreneurial training in her community. As a result, she pivoted her mission and launched JEI.
Creating a positive change
Janese believes that each individual has certain unique talents and abilities, and within these individuals lies the power to achieve their greatest dreams, goals, and aspirations.
“I see my role as to not only inspire confidence in our women and youth, but to encourage, challenge, motivate and support them, and effect change in society and positively impact the world,” she says. Ultimately, Janese hopes that JEI will impact the world by empowering individuals to achieve their maximum potential and to contribute to society. She hopes to be a source of inspiration to others and to let them know that they can also rise above any challenge or adversity that they could face in life.
Expanding reach beyond Antigua and Barbuda
JEI typically provides entrepreneurship training through regular workshops in Antigua and Barbuda. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, JEI has made greater use of technology and social media to reach a more global audience and has begun developing online courses that offer greater accessibility and flexibility to its audience. JEI uses Facebook Live events to connect with individuals around the world and increase their visibility, and it has refined mentorship and coaching programs for a more enriching and personalized experience.
Establishing a network
From its inception, Janese has envisioned JEI as becoming a premier training institute to provide lessons in entrepreneurship best practices, leadership skills, mentoring and hospitality expertise training across the Caribbean. Her experience in the 2017 YLAI Professional Fellows Program has been pivotal to the growth and success of her company. “I have access to a wealth of knowledge and resources and a huge network of entrepreneurs and other professionals,” she says.
By connecting with other YLAI members across the Caribbean, Janese has worked on projects with other like-minded Fellows to positively impact women in the Caribbean, and she now serves as a mentor for some women involved with the program. By using the knowledge gained through this experience, Janese has been able to follow her passions, expand her business, and make a positive global impact on women’s empowerment.
The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.