UN endorses Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Youth Entrepreneurship concept

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday November 12, 2012 – The UN’s draft resolution focuses on Entrepreneurship For Development and encourages countries and regions to establish Centre of Excellence for Entrepreneurship.

The Centre is an innovative, one of a kind regional mechanism, which will entrench the philosophy of entrepreneurship into the psych of Caribbean youth, accelerating the culture of entrepreneurship, thus making it a natural school to work transition choice.  Founded by David Clarke – Champion of regional youth development and Marcia Brandon- youth entrepreneurship development expert, the Centre has been operating informally, but regularly for 12 years and was formally registered in 2011.
History.

This is a 12 year old initiative, borne out of an increasing demand by Caribbean countries wanting to provide decent work for their youth population utilising best practices and non-traditional strategies.  While the desire to help young people start businesses and develop entrepreneurial acumen was strong among Caribbean and within countries, the know-how was limited. 

The know-how was however not too far.  The Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT) had been practicing a non-traditional approach to creating decent work for youth through the strategic methodology of helping them to start and grow their own businesses, making jobs for themselves and for others.  This cause was championed by David Clarke and other pioneer business men, including Dr. Trevor Carmichael  who saw value in this approach to youth unemployment, in an era of economic and social turmoil in the early 1990’s in Barbados.

While the desire to start a Youth Business Trust (YBT) was strong, it was not until the expertise and leadership of Marcia Brandon was brought in fifteen (15) years ago that the elements of youth entrepreneurship development began to take flight.  Today BYBT is founding member of Youth Business International – the premier youth entrepreneurship development network globally; it is an award winning Best Practice and a regional resource on youth entrepreneurship development. 

CARIBBEAN GROUP OF YBTs

The Caribbean Group of YBTs presently comprise 9 countries:

•    Barbados Youth Business Trust
•    Belize Youth Business Trust
•    Dominica Youth Business Trust
•    Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago
•    Guyana Youth Business Trust
•    Jamaica Youth Business Trust
•    Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center
•    St. Lucia Youth Business Trust
•    St. Vincent & The Grenadines Youth Business Trust

Interested Countries:

•    St. Kitts & Nevis – Funding secured for start-up
•    Grenada – Funding secured for start-up
•    Haiti
•    Bahamas
•    Suriname
•    Monsterrat
•    Anguilla

Role of the Centre:

The Centre is the foundation and key implementation strategy to make YBTs living, functioning, effective instruments for bringing youth entrepreneurship to a higher level throughout the region.  The overall goal of the Centre is to ensure the growth and sustainability of the Caribbean Group of Youth Business Trusts.  However the Centre also focus on added-value strategies within youth development, entrepreneurship and the NGO sector, including training and capacity building within youth councils and Small Business Associations. 

It will scale up the sharing of existing best practices and lessons learnt among the regional trusts; lobby for youth entrepreneurship development strategies, policies and engagement among governments, entities and other stakeholders, continue to engage private sector partners, market and promote the work of regional Trusts;  train and develop youth entrepreneurship practitioners/ business mentors/young entrepreneurs; work with international development organizations to design, implement, monitor and evaluate youth development projects/programmes for the region and beyond and engage donors and investors; develop regional youth entrepreneurship literature and materials; disseminate best practices and develop innovative methods of generating income for the sustainability of the Centre and regional Trusts. 

What Currently Exist and Achievements:

•    Assistance with the start-up of all 8 YBTs
•    Conduct Needs Assessment surveys
•    Facilitate stakeholders symposiums
•    Facilitate knowledge transfer and information sharing with regional and extra-regional partners
•    Led on hosting 5 regional youth entrepreneurship conferences
•    Develop Needs Assessment reports
•    Mobilise funding to assist with start-ups
•    Establish business mentoring programmes for Dominica and Antigua
•    Training of Boards/ Programme Managers / Staff/Business Mentors of all start-up YBTs: training in the areas of NGO Management; building partnerships; promoting a YBT, securing funding;
•    How to help young people to start businesses – Training, Strategies and Techniques
•    Social intervention techniques
•    Partnerships with USAID, British High Commission, OAS –YABT, CARICOM, CDB, CIDA, IDB, YBI to implement projects to assist young people with decent work initiatives.

What Will Be Achieved:

April 2012 – USAID 3 years OECS Youth Entrepreneurship Programme

1.    The Centre will become fully operational in its own space with its own leader and team
2.    The Centre will scale up its regional presence and those of the Caribbean Group of YBTs through methods including the following:

•    Increased regional partnerships
•    Regional branding
•    Regional publications
•    Governmental/policy contributions
•    Regional business plan competitions
•    Regional training sessions
•    ICT mainstreaming
•    Education and training influences
•    Mobilising funding for youth business start-ups

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