Young leaders initiative, US Embassy to sponsor Youth Innovation Camp

Members of the YLAI Alumni , from left to right, Judason Bess, Abigale Loncke, Shaunda Yarde, Triston Thompson and Dason Anthony

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Guyanese Alumni (YLAI Guyana) in collaboration with the U.S Embassy are looking for 38 high school-aged individuals with an interest in entrepreneurship to be a part of their upcoming “Youth Innovation Camp.”

Essentially, the two-day event will be targeting teams of high school aged students between the ages of 15 – 17 years old, who are interested in becoming social or business entrepreneurs. Its aim, to promote and foster an entrepreneurial environment amongst youths in Guyana.

Slated for December 18-20, the Youth Innovation Camp’s participants will be exposed to talks from Business Advisors and Business Leaders in various sectors across Guyana. They also will receive training on developing their business plans which act as a road map for start-up and future growth.

Additionally, participants will be able to pitch their business ideas for a chance to secure seed funding of US $1,000 to get their idea off the ground.

Meanwhile, YLAI alumna and founder of Coconut Grove Shaunda Yarde, offering some background on the initiative, told the Sunday Stabroek that after the completion of their fellowships, the team was given the opportunity to come up with something that would benefit their country.

“After YLAI we were all given the opportunity to come up with something that would benefit our country, and so we eventually submitted this as a proposal and the Embassy loved the fact that we were able to come up with a plan that would incorporate students from all the regions of Guyana and not just students from Region Three or Four,” Yarde explained.

“We are looking for kids who already have businesses or business ideas, and we are going to bring them down to Georgetown, all-expenses paid and we are going to have them for two days of business camp. They are going to learn about what entrepreneurship is, entrepreneurship in relation to their country. Methods of dealing with entrepreneurships in Guyana, you know things like failure, how to pitch your business, and in addition to that, we are giving them the opportunity to win US$1,000 to go towards their business, as part of the pitch competition,” she added.

Commenting on the selection process, Yarde said the team will be looking to select the most unique yet feasible business proposals tendered by students, who do not necessarily have to be in the business stream at school. We are looking for any kind of business ideas; any sort of local business that would help to develop their community.

“We are looking at 15 to 17 years old, not necessarily from the business stream per say because business can come from anywhere. We want those who are mature enough, just about to come out of school, looking for the next thing to do. They can create a job for themselves instead of waiting in line for one, they can even pull some friends in if they want. And we are especially excited to see what will be coming out of places like Regions One and Two, and what not,” the YLAI alumna added.

Yarde also explained that the facilitators of the initiative have decided to select owners of medium size business and start-ups as presenters to share their experience in building their own.

“The idea that we have in mind for the conference is to have testimonies from business teens; a general session on how to do a business pitch, and then we have a break out session that seeks to go into detail about making your pitch, coping with failure, etc. We are looking to have speakers such as Stacey Dos Santos[-Rahaman] of Visit Guyana because we are trying to make them understand at this young age that you have to have a love for your country, and not everyone could beat out and she’s the embodiment of something along those lines,” she said.

In addition to the guest speakers, the members of the YLAI alumni will be hosting breakout sessions based on business practices learnt during the course of their fellowship overseas.

“What we intend to have happen is that apart from providing and presenting, we would like to do follow-ups in say about six months or a year, to see what they have done and I think that is also going to be on a personal level because this is a volunteer project for us, although it is completely funded by the US Government, we are giving our time to do this. We are going to be here to give advice, interact and keep in touch with them,” she shared.

Another interesting element of the camp is one that Yarde said was pulled from having previously attended empowerment workshops hosted by First Lady Sandra Granger, where the team will be focusing on dealing with the ups and downs of owning a business.

“I took an element from that programme and implemented it to talk about realistic values and realistic accomplishments; to talk about what life is really like and that it is not like what is seen in music videos or something, so that is an entire half day. We are going to teach them about believing in themselves and their community, maintaining a balanced life, and tips and ideas on how to accept that it is not always perfect,” she explained.

In terms of her encouragement to those who are unsure whether to apply, Yarde said, “Specifically for the outer regions, it’s hard. I live in Region Three and if I didn’t make myself registered in all of these different organizations or agencies, then I wouldn’t have gotten to go to different meetings and have access to different types of knowledge. You should apply if you have that idea that you want to start your own business then this is a good chance for you to position yourself in the right circles for knowledge, product, marketing for self-development, self-improvement. It is going to be something they remember for the rest of their lives.”

As a requirement for the programme, applications must consist of teams of three members, among whom persons have been identified as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and they must also have a viable business idea and a business plan which can be implemented.

Participants’ accommodation, meals and travel will be covered by the U.S. Embassy and YLAI Guyana.

Teams interested in applying are asked to do so digitally by filling up applications that are available on the website https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSfmDRF1GAnLyXLzgw…/viewform. Submissions can be made to either 592 Tees, Courtyard Mall, 76-77 Robb St, Lacytown, Georgetown or via email to: alum@ylai.gy . The deadline for submissions is November 15th, 2017.

For additional information or questions, persons are asked to visit YLAI’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ YoungLeadersofGuyana.

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