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TTM, YEA Sign Technical Cooperation Agreement To Support Young Entrepreneurs

Young Saint Lucian entrepreneurs now have greater opportunities to succeed, thanks to a Technical Cooperation Agreement (TCA) signed between the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) and Youth Economy Agency (YEA) on Tuesday, 30 April 2024.

 

With financial and other support from the TTM, 420 young Saint Lucians will be able to participate in advanced training workshops, thereby equipping them with the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly evolving economy. They will also receive training in investment to help them become more financially literate and empowered.

 

The young entrepreneurs will also get the opportunity to represent Saint Lucia at the prestigious Global Youth Trends Forum in Taiwan, to not only expand their horizons, but also create valuable networking opportunities. Moreover, 420 youths will receive grants of up to $1,000.00.

 

In his remarks at the signing ceremony held at the YEA’s office on Chaussee Road, Castries, H.E. Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, congratulated the YEA for its remarkable achievements and transformative impact of various initiatives on the lives of young Saint Lucians through a variety of interventions over the past year.

 

“By providing access to funding, mentorship, networking opportunities and capacity-building workshops, YEA has been steadfast in its mission to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit among the youth, and the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is glad to have a reliable and trusty partner like YEA so that our program can run successfully,” said Ambassador Chen.

 

Ambassador Chen also commended Hon. Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre’s pledge for the youth economy, and his leadership and commitment in creating an enabling environment where young entrepreneurs can thrive and innovate, and where every young person has the opportunity to fulfill their aspirations. On behalf of the Government of Taiwan, Ambassador Chen also presented five laptops to YEA.

 

“Together with the Government of Saint Lucia and partnering organizations, we can harness the power of youth entrepreneurship to drive innovation, create jobs, and foster sustainable economic growth,” Ambassador Chen said.

 

Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and the Youth Economy & Minister for Justice and National Security, thanked the Government of Taiwan for continuing to invest in the people of Saint Lucia, including making a difference in the lives of young people.

 

“Ambassador, I want to tell you that you are doing for this agency something that I cherish,” Hon. Pierre said in his remarks. “I really cherish it because this country cannot survive if the young people in this country do not buy into a certain level of philosophy…of being better than their parents. This generation must do better than the last generation.”

 

According to Mr. Bryan Vidal, Chief Executive Officer of the YEA, the financial support from the Taiwanese Government will empower young entrepreneurs to launch or scale their businesses, drive innovation and create jobs within the micro, small, and medium enterprises sector. 

 

“These initiatives are not just about providing resources; they are about building a brighter future for our youth, fostering closer collaboration between agencies engaged in youth development, and ultimately contributing to the economic growth of our nation,” said Vidal.

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Thomas Leonce, Chairman of YEA, expressed gratitude to the Government of Taiwan, saying that unwavering financial and technical support from Taiwan has been instrumental in the YEA getting its footing.

 

“The Republic of China (Taiwan) has become more than a friendly contributor to the YEA, more like family, in a short space of time,” Leonce said. “The initial show of confidence back in 2022 may very well have served as an impetus for other countries, agencies and entities to get involved and to get behind the mission of the Youth Economy Agency.” 

YEA Turns 1 - Celebrating an Impactful Year

On 7 March 2023, after months of anticipation, the Youth Economy Agency was officially launched at the Finance Administrative Centre. The vision of Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy, Hon. Philip J.  Pierre, the agency is intended to provide avenues for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs aged between 15 and 35 to get access to funding, training, marketing support, import concessions, mentorship and more to help develop their emerging businesses.

 

At the launch, the Prime Minister  explained that YEA will pave the way for Saint Lucia's young people to be able to play a greater role in the island's economic affairs and have a genuine say in nation-building.

 

"You need a youth economy, because you need an agile, flexible organization that will allow young people to convert their hobbies into entrepreneurship, and their skills into business," he shared. "The Youth Economy Agency will try to have an economic space for young people, an area where young people can bring their dreams... The sky is really the limit. And we must be brave, we must be daring. We must not be so pessimistic. We must not look at the glass always half empty. The glass is half full.”

 

He further emphasized the importance “of having more confidence in ourselves as a people and confidence in our ability."

 

Since presenting the first 11 grants at the launch in March 2023, YEA has impacted the lives of hundreds of young Saint Lucians through a variety of interventions. YEA has processed over 1,000 grants to budding business owners island wide. The agency has also extended approximately 500 training and mentorship opportunities. Veteran professionals have imparted knowledge to their up-and-coming counterparts via Business Mixers and an Investment Forum.

 

YEA has also benefitted from local, regional, and international partnerships, working closely with organisations such as Export Saint Lucia, Invest Saint Lucia, and the Ministry of Commerce. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has supported the work of the agency from inception. And the conclusion of a loan agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank in the last quarter of 2023 has laid the groundwork for YEA to expand its workplan.

 

Entering its second year of operation, Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bryan Vidal, is looking forward to building on what he views as a solid foundation, with the main focus being on exceeded  expectations.

 

"In our first year, we have been able to touch the lives of many young Saint Lucians in a very positive way, and we can see how a lot of these businesses have grown from strength to strength with our support," he noted. " We are excited about year 2, we will focus on efficiency by continuing  our grant allocations and delivering on our loans mandate. Through greater collaborative efforts with other stakeholders, we will further expand  our training programme. We are hoping that our second mentorship programme will reach more than twice as many businesses, and we are eager to start disbursing loans to our young entrepreneurs."

 

With the advent of YEA, the nation's hopeful young entrepreneurs are one step closer to realising their dreams of successfully owning and running their own businesses. YEA remains open to applications from youth who want to convert their hobbies into entrepreneurship, and their skills into business.

 

Application forms can be accessed via the YEA website.

 

 

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CDB Honours Commitment to Youth Transformation with Launch of YEA Project in Saint Lucia

February 6, 2024 – BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Marking a transformative leap towards youth empowerment and economic advancement, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSLU) officially launched the Saint Lucia Youth Economy Agency (YEA) Project at the Sandals Halcyon in Saint Lucia on Tuesday, February 6, 2024.

 

Under the agreement, a substantial USD7.6 million will be allocated to fuel this ground-breaking initiative, poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of more than 3000 young individuals.

 

The Youth Economy Project, approved in July 2023, is designed to provide business training or financing for aspiring young entrepreneurs, aged 15 to 35. As a pivotal element in promoting social inclusivity and gender responsiveness, the project is set to engage 600 young people in intensive business development, planning, marketing, and management training. Additionally, 120 youths will receive personalised business mentoring, coaching, and financial support.

 

Beyond individual capacity-building, the project aims to support over 3,000 young individuals, aged 18 to 25, in various enterprise activities encompassing agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, retail, and the services industries, spanning the blue, green, and orange economies.

 

The timely project will drive youth economic empowerment and contribute to investment and capacity development in youth-led enterprises with the ultimate goal of mitigating youth unemployment and enhancing social resilience.  The project's commitment to social inclusivity and gender equality, will ensure that services, investments, and operations cater to the diverse needs of men, women, boys, and girls.

 

CDB Division Chief, Dr Martin Baptiste, Social Sector Division, said the historical moment, marked the Bank’s commitment to the future of Saint Lucia’s young people.

 

“We absolutely see the value in this as a viable development solution. This is a solemn obligation to the generations that are here that will assure that our young people will continue to thrive. The Youth Economy Project is truly transformational. This project is here because the future is now,” Dr. Baptiste said.

 

Mr. Bryan Vidal, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Economy Agency, said the YEA anticipated significant personal growth among its clientele.

 

“In providing resources to the agency, the Bank has endorsed the vision of Prime Minister Hon. Philip J. Pierre, further enabling our expanded cadre of officers to do even more to grow the youth entrepreneur ecosystem. With their assistance, we are now better poised to water the roots, and to place our clients in positions where they can bloom,” said Mr. Vidal.

Mr. Vidal noted that the YEA was pleased with the response to the project.

 

“The YEA was created to support Saint Lucia's young entrepreneurs through interventions including funding and training, to plant the seeds for the next generation of business leaders. From inception, we have been overwhelmed by the volume of interest from eligible persons, clearly indicative of the need for such an organisation. We are delighted that the CDB has also recognised the agency as fit for purpose,” said Mr. Vidal.

 

This launch reinforces the strengthened partnership between CDB and Saint Lucia since January 2023, with initiatives and agreements exceeding USD63 million in loan and grant funding, including co-financing commitments from the Government and donor partners including the InterAmerican Development and the European Investment Bank.

 

Over 60 Young Entrepreneurs Conclude Business Plan Training with YEA

Castries, Saint Lucia | December 12, 2023 - The Youth Economy Agency (YEA) closed out its training programme for 2023 with more than five dozen young entrepreneurs acquiring skills and tools to take their businesses to the next level, through the Agency's Entrepreneurial Development Programme. Successful participants were awarded an Angel Fund, comprising a cash injection of Five Thousand Eastern Caribbean Dollars (EC$5,000.00) to invest in their business.

 

With an excellent success rate of 98%, this second cohort of Business Planning trainees numbered 64 in total. The first Business Planning group in June numbered 92, whilst YEA also concluded training in Introduction to Digital Marketing with a class of 60 in August. 

 

With support from the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), the aspiring business owners embarked on a four-week course of instruction, including three weeks of interactive classroom sessions at the YEA office on Chaussee Road in Castries, and the ICT Access Centre on Commercial Street in Vieux Fort. Participants were then asked to produce a winning business plan to guide their own incipient ventures. Finally, they were required to pitch their business plans to an expert panel including business coaches, course facilitators, YEA officers and members of its board of directors, and representatives of partner agencies such as Export Saint Lucia and Invest Saint Lucia. The theme of this round of training was "Empowering Minds, Building Futures." 

 

On Tuesday 12 December, the latest trainees took part in a brief certificate ceremony at the Bay Gardens Bougainvillea Conference Centre. YEA Training & Development Officer, Ms. Olivia Jn Baptiste, encouraged the recipients to see this certificate ceremony as a steppingstone to greater success. She said:

 

"The future is not something that just happens; it is something we create. It is a collective effort, a collaborative endeavour. Your minds, now equipped with knowledge and fortified by this training, are the architects of the futures you aspire to build. I urge you to go forth with the confidence that you are not alone in this journey. You are part of a community of empowered minds, a network of individuals who believe in the power of innovation and the potential within each one of you. Congratulations on this achievement, young entrepreneurs. As you step into the future, remember that the seeds we planted here will grow into the landscapes you dream of creating. Each certificate you hold is a testament to the resilience, the passion, and the futures you are building."

 

A number of special awards were presented. From Cedar Heights in Vieux Fort, the winner of the YEA award for Most Outstanding Business Plan was Mr. Josiah Antoine of Island Tea. From New Development, Soufriere, the recipient of the award for Most Innovative Business Idea was Ms. Moanna Calixte-Octave of Mo’s Products for her cocoa-based line. The YEA EcoVation Excellence Award went to agriculturist Mr. Imnah Alexander of Haven Farm, Dacretin, Choiseul. Additionally, facilitator Mrs. Deborah Nicholas-Charlery recognised Ms. Kizzie Theodore (Kizzie's Delicious Bites), Ms. Annice Jn Panel (Helen Luxury Villas), and Mr. Tennyson Estephane (Dorvil's Automobile) for their tenacity and teamwork.

 

The class was addressed by feature speaker, Dr. Thecla Lewis, Director of Operations and Human Resource Consultant, from Lewis Industries Ltd. His Excellency Peter Chen, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), delivered brief remarks. And former soca monarch, Ezra "De Fun Machine" Augustin entertained the crowd with two of his hit tunes. Testimonials were also provided by Miss Jerona Antal (Decor Delivered) and Mr. Yannick Nicholas (Yanz05 Mobile Detailing).

 

In a little over 8 months, having opened its doors in April 2023, YEA has disbursed in excess of 350 grants, trained over 220 young people in Business Planning and Digital Marketing, and engaged a further 30 through its mentorship programme. The Agency is looking forward to supporting many more youth entrepreneurs in the year ahead.

Saint Lucia Celebrates First-Ever Youth Investment Forum

The inaugural Investment Forum has been deemed a success. Hosted by the Youth Economy Agency (YEA) at the Finance Administration Centre on Friday, 8 December 2023, and intended to introduce over 100 young entrepreneurs to the concept of investment, the day-long event was supported by the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

 

This first-of-its-kind engagement gave several emerging companies the opportunity to exhibit their goods and services, whilst scores of aspiring businessmen and businesswomen were able to learn from and be inspired by presentations from subject-matter experts, business coaches, and fellow young entrepreneurs from Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean. Dr. Tamu Petra Browne of St. Kitts and Nevis spoke on Game Changers: Businesses of the Future – The Next Big Thing. And Mr. Raphael Saul of Barbados delivered the Feature Presentation - Investing in Youth Entrepreneurship (Millennials & Gen Z as Trailblazers). Other presenters included Dr. James Fletcher; Dr. Donatian Gustave; Mr. Clemvio Hodge; and Mrs. Dona Regis-Prosper.

 

Mrs. Khrystal Riviere, Chief Operations Officer of YEA, said the Forum positions burgeoning enterprises to survive and thrive:

 

"Today we gather, not merely as spectators, but as active participants in a crucial dialogue about the evolution of businesses from their humble beginnings in the micro stage to the towering heights of large enterprises. This Forum is a testament to the vision of our Honourable Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, who with foresight and dedication has championed the cause of youth development. It is through his unwavering commitment, and the steadfast support of the Government of Saint Lucia, that we stand here today. 

"This gathering would not have been possible without their vision and dedication to fostering an environment where youth entrepreneurs can thrive. In a world where resources are finite, the Prime Minister and our Government have not only spoken about the youth economy but have also allocated valuable resources to nurture it. The Youth Investment Forum is a reflection of the Government's passion and belief in the potential of our youth. It signifies a strategic move to expose microenterprises to diverse funding opportunities, guiding them through the various cycles of growth from micro and small to medium and large."

 

Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, said the Government of Saint Lucia expressed her pride in the work of the Agency and of the nation's young leaders:

 

"As a Cabinet, we are proud of what you have achieved. We are proud of the energy that the Youth Economy Agency is bringing to the work that it has to do. But it is when we work together that we will move this economy. I want to thank partners, the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan)… for the support they have given to our economy in general, and you, the beneficiaries of the Youth Economy for taking that bold step."

 

His Excellency Peter Chen, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan) gave brief remarks at the event, declaring his Government's commitment to continued support for initiatives of this kind:

 

“This forum is not just a stage for listening, but a platform for collaboratively constructing the blueprint for the youth entrepreneurs. The Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) remains committed to partnering with the Government of Saint Lucia to assist and invest in more young individuals in seizing entrepreneurial opportunities, thereby transforming not only individual lives, but also shaping the future of our nations.”

 

In advance of Friday's Investment Forum, the Agency hosted two key activities. Twelve YEA clients engaged in a two-day Investment Training programme, Understanding Investment, with the collaboration of Bank of Saint Lucia. They learned to define investment, types of investment, how to secure investment and financing, sector-specific investment options, and more. Several young entrepreneurs also took part in a Perfect Your Pitch session, where they were taught how to better present themselves and their businesses.

YEA Joins Chamber of Commerce for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023

Global Entrepreneurship Week Saint Lucia 2023 celebrations commenced on Monday 13th November with a Launch at the Harbor Club Hotel Rodney Bay Gros Islet. Saint Lucia joined the rest of the World in marking this major global movement highlighting and celebrating the role of Entrepreneurs. Held annually for one week in November, GEW is a global platform that empowers individuals worldwide to unleash their ideas, fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship and propelling new businesses to scale.

 

The Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, host of GEW in Saint Lucia, has been an integral part of this Global GEW movement since 2011, consistently advocating for entrepreneurship as a key driver of economic growth. Having Junior Achievement Saint Lucia as a major project of the Chamber for more than twenty years and then creating a Youth Business Trust, provided the foundation for profiling and promoting the Chamber's fundamental belief and support for Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship which has driven the Chamber for its 139 years of operation. Major and critical partners and sponsors of GEW Saint Lucia 2023, include Republic Bank, Digicel, German Savings Bank, LUCLEC, the Youth Economy Agency among other who have played significant roles in supporting GEW Saint Lucia 2023.

 

The GEW Launch saw presentations by Republic Bank who pointed to the specific products designed to support start-ups and small business, while Digicel unfurled the suite of services available to Entrepreneurs as well as a special support program for young entrepreneurs and small business operators run by the Youth Development and Empowerment Program. The Honourable Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, who had agreed to speak at the launch, was held up by some important deliberations in Cabinet, so his Special Economic Advisor Mr. Michael Willius delivered remarks on his behalf to the ceremony, which were well received. Successful and dynamic entrepreneur, Mr. Denell Florius delivered an inspiring Feature Address urging the entrepreneurs to “dream big”.  

 

Mrs. Nikima Royer-JnoBaptiste, Digicel’s CEO and event sponsor, said of the event “With Digicel continuing to innovate and diversify, by developing a product specifically geared towards entrepreneurs, we look forward to supporting (the) Youth Business Trust and GEW in future”.

 

Throughout GEW, several events and activities have been planned to engage, connect, mentor and inspire entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers, and support organizations to drive for an improved entrepreneurship ecosystem in Saint Lucia. The detailed calendar can be found on the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce's website www.stluciachamber.org, providing a comprehensive overview of the week's activities.

 

For more information on activities for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023, please contact the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture via telephone at 452 3165 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.