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US Ambassador Palmer commends developmental programmes
TWO programmes aimed at fostering youth development and entrepreneurship have received a welcomed cash injection of US$4.4 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
New US Ambassador to Barbados, Larry Palmer, who arrived on the island last week, made his first official visit to the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT) yesterday afternoon, where he launched the programmes awarded by USAID to Youth Business International (YBI) and Junior Achievement Worldwide.
The organisations were represented by YBI CEO, Andrew Devenport, and Chief of Party, Junior Achievement Eastern Caribbean, Marsha-Ann Strand.
Ambassador Palmer explained that the first US$2 million is a three-year award to Youth Business International to raise the profile of entrepreneurship for youth aged 18-35.
“The programme will provide education and training, business mentoring and assistance with access to capital to help with business start-ups. A key feature of the programme will be the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to serve as a regional platform to guide Youth Business Trust models.”
The second award of US$2.4 million goes to Junior Achievement Worldwide over a period of three years.
“This initiative will improve the business skills and financial literacy of over 15 000 youth across the Eastern Caribbean. It will support persons aged 15-18 who are in school, thereby assisting in the school-to-work transition.”
He told specially invited guests that the programme will engage the business community to invest in the development of youth through mentorship, apprenticeships, internships and partnership.
The ambassador described these two agreements as exciting development initiatives that will enhance the region’s goal to build the entrepreneurial sector, support decreases in youth unemployment and ultimately reduce youth participation in crime as the region’s talent is directed toward productive activity.
Additionally, the ambassador said that he is pleased that both YBI and Junior Achievement Worldwide have committed to leverage at least an equivalent level of resources from other sources, including the private sector.
“Fostering partnerships to address key development challenges is a core principle of the United States’ development agenda. The private sector holds resources and knowledge that increase the scope of our programmes and the sustainability of results.”
The importance of partnerships was also highlighted by Ambassador Palmer. “When we work in partnership, we can be a powerful force that stimulates more competitive and profitable business as well as broader-based growth. But it all starts with an idea.
“I look forward to the many ideas that will flow from the youth of the Eastern Caribbean under these programmes; this is the largest generation ever to transition to adulthood. Ideas from the 1.3 billion youth living in developing countries today will have a long-term impact on global development at home and across the world,” he said.