Hearing-impaired entrepreneur goes on a journey with Yadz Sandals

The Yadz Sandals are made from genuine leather.
Yadz Sandals are made from genuine leather.

Twenty-four-year-old entrepreneur Shaquille Anderson is determined to succeed and employ other young persons with special needs who have a hard time finding a job.

Anderson, who was born without a right eardrum and lost most of the hearing in his left ear at age 13, knows the struggles and frustrations others like him face in society.

“No one wanted to hire me, mainly because of my disability.”

— Shaquille Anderson

“After leaving high school, I found it hard to get a job. No one wanted to hire me, mainly because of my disability. It hurt, but I decided that I was going to make something of myself on my own terms, and in the process, I will help others like me,” he said.

With support from his maternal grandparents, who raised him in Vineyard Town, he set out to prove others wrong about his perceived limitations.

 Shaquille Anderson started his business after being trained at the HEART Trust/NTA.
Shaquille Anderson started his business after being trained at the HEART Trust/NTA.

Training at HEART Trust/NTA

He learnt to adapt to his environment, developing the ability to read lips and has started learning Jamaican Sign Language (JSL) to enable him to communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community (Deaf/HH).

He enrolled as a trainee of the HEART Trust/NTA Learning for Earning Activity Programme (LEAP) Centre in May 2015. He graduated in March 2016 after successfully completing the joint shoemaking programme and received a National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) Joint Certification.

He later created Yadz Sandals, specialising in handcrafted products, including sandals, shoes, bags and belts. All the products are made from genuine snakeskin leather.

“Yadz Sandals came from the phrase ‘mek a yadz’ that my neighbours say from time to time. It is similar in meaning to someone going on a journey,” Anderson said.

The Jamaica Youth Business Trust assisted Shaquille Anderson by providing the capital he needed.
The Jamaica Youth Business Trust assisted Shaquille Anderson by providing the capital he needed.

Getting the capital

In an effort to get capital for his business, Anderson approached the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and was referred to the Jamaica Youth Business Trust (JYBT). 

The JYBT is a social development and transformation organisation that works to reduce unemployment among the nation’s youth through a variety of entrepreneurial ventures and by providing business counselling and microfinancing. 

Since the inception of the JYBT in November 2000, a total of 159 young entrepreneurs have received training, with 15 businesses receiving capital.

 “Since Shaquille has been with us, the JYBT has begun to explore ways to engage and serve other entrepreneurs from the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in Jamaica, as we have recognised the need to be inclusive and provide equal opportunities,” said Acting General Manager of the JYBT, Stacy Ann Gavin.

Yadz Sandals can be found in several gift shops across Jamaica.
Yadz Sandals can be found in several gift shops across Jamaica.

“At the JYBT, we train our target audience in creating business plans, building portfolios and how to consistently market their products. Shaquille was 10 steps ahead of the game when he came to us, as he already had those things prepared. What he really needed was the capital.”

Grateful for assistance

Anderson is grateful for the assistance of organisations like JYBT for helping him without limiting him because of his disability.

Products in the Yadz Sandals inventory are done to order and can be found in select gift shops across the island. The sandals and bags are currently his bestsellers.

For more information on Yadz Sandals, Shaquille Anderson can be contacted at shaqyadz123@gmail.com.