On the heels of his recent visit to the Caribbean, United States President Barack Obama has launched the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) whereby young, emerging entrepreneurs in Central America and the Caribbean will have the opportunity to expand on their business ideas through a stream of ongoing support via mentorship, and networking and investment opportunities.
According to information released from The White House, “Fifty-eight percent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean is under 35. Despite important economic gains over the last decade, significant challenges – including limited access to jobs, capital, and advanced educational opportunities, and the availability of illicit employment opportunities – hold many youth back from reaching their full potential.”
The news comes amid other worldwide educational and entrepreneurial advancements in recent years including free scholarships provided by Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine; $68 million in scholarship funding made possible by the United States Agency for International Development; and the Spark Initiative, a program launched by the President to promote entrepreneurship around the world.
Brief details of the YLAI are as follows:
* YLAI Goals: Connections, Co-Creation, and Contributing to Growth
Building linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere is a central objective of the initiative. Through its fellowships, YLAI aims to foster over 50 formal business and civil society partnerships each year between emerging entrepreneurial and civil society entities in Latin America and the Caribbean with their counterparts in the United States.
* The YLAI Fellowship: Building Business and Social Innovations
The fellowship will include six weeks of training, immersion at an incubator, accelerator, or civil society organization, and a summit in Washington, D.C. to facilitate mentoring, networking, and investment opportunities. The summit will provide participants with the opportunity to showcase their initiatives and attract new investments, learn from others, network with leading figures in their field, as well as hear from top business, government, and civil society leaders.
* The YLAI Pilot: Focus on Technology
YLAI will commence in 2015 with a pilot program involving 24 participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba. The pilot program will focus on the creation and expansion of business and civil society initiatives that utilize technology by embedding participants in incubators and accelerators across the United States.
* Increasing Investment in At-Risk Youth in Central America and the Caribbean
Promoting social development is a key aspect of the United States’ comprehensive approach to partnerships in the Western Hemisphere. Achieving regional stability and long-term prosperity in the global economy depends on equipping youth with the skills they need to compete in the 21st century workforce.
* Building on Robust Investments in Youth and Entrepreneurship
These new efforts build on a strong foundation of United States’ support to and engagement with the region’s youth. They also complement American programs working to advance the frontiers of entrepreneurship across the hemisphere. The President’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative has helped to substantially increase the number of educational exchanges between the United States and countries in the region. The number of students from across the Americas coming to study in the United States has increased by over thirteen percent since the start of the initiative.
(CLICK HERE for a related article.)