Port of Spain, Trinidad — Young people hoping to transform their business ideas into successful enterprises are set to benefit from the creation of a new Commonwealth alliance to promote youth entrepreneurship across the Caribbean and Americas.
The Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Caribbean & Canada (CAYE-C&C), a coalition of 13 organisations from nine Commonwealth countries, was officially launched in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, this week.
The alliance will advocate for greater support to encourage young people to go into business, provide practical guidance for promising youth-led start-up companies, and connect young entrepreneurs to promote trade within the region and beyond.
According to the agreement signed on 30 June 2015, the founding members aim to “contribute to regional sustainable development by helping to increase the numbers of young entrepreneurs who grow businesses, create jobs, change lives and ensure future economic prosperity.”
Selma Green of Barbados Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, elected as inaugural chair following the launch event, said: “I look forward to leading a dynamic alliance of partners who are committed to creating a new generation of entrepreneurs, who will lead the charge to revolutionise our economies.”
Green will serve alongside Erica Wynter of Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of Jamaica, who was elected vice chair.
Trinidad and Tobago’s minister of gender, youth and child development, Clifton De Coteau, applauded the initiative, noting that it will help countries to share practices and promote youth entrepreneurship.
He highlighted that many young people are sole bread winners for their households, saying: “Our support of young entrepreneurs is not just about boosting their self-esteem and their career development, but also about ensuring they can provide a good quality of life for their families.”
A network of networks, the alliance will facilitate trade opportunities, training and technical support for young business leaders, and increase networking and mentorship opportunities. It will also unify the voices of young people to call for enhancements to existing entrepreneurship policies.
Welcoming the new alliance, Katherine Ellis, director of youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “Young entrepreneurs are powerful drivers of economic renewal, job creation, innovation and social change. The Commonwealth Secretariat is committed to supporting and connecting young entrepreneurs so their voices are heard by decision makers at the highest levels.”
The decision to form the alliance — which is modelled on the Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE), set up in 2011 — was made in December 2014 at a forum in Barbados convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Matt Sweeting, president of the Bahamas Organization of Young Professionals, said: “CAYE-C&C represents an unparalleled opportunity to create an enabling environment for young people to start and grow their own businesses, in an effort to combat unemployment, crime and poverty. An initiative like this can be a game-changer.”
The following organisations are founding members of the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Caribbean & Canada:
- Anguilla Get SET Entrepreneurship Programme – Anguilla
- Organization of Young Professionals – Bahamas
- Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation – Barbados
- Barbados Youth Business Trust – Barbados
- Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme – Barbados
- Youth For Epic Change – Barbados
- Futurpreneur Canada – Canada
- Dominica Youth Business Trust – Dominica
- Jamaica Youth Business Trust – Jamaica
- Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica – Jamaica
- St Lucia Youth Business Trust – Saint Lucia
- St Vincent & Grenadines Youth Business Trust – St Vincent and The Grenadines
- Youth Business Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad and Tobago