Entrepreneurship a viable solution for region
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has a long history of promoting and supporting youth development in their member countries and in recent years they have invested USD $114 million in youth development projects.
Director in the CDB’s Projects Department Daniel Best said the bank recognizes that harnessing the entrepreneurial talents of the region’s young people and easing the constraints of the labour mark are vital ingredients to creating inclusive and sustainable growth.
Best was speaking at the launch of a Train the Trainer workshop which is aimed at strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit of Caribbean youth. The project, which will be rolled out in five countries, is an initiative of the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT), with support from CDB and The Inter- American Development Bank (IDB).
The Barbados leg of the session culminates today.
In his address to participants, Best said with young entrepreneurs getting the help they need, youth unemployment in the region, which stands at nearly 25 percent, can be reduced.
He said a CDB study entitled, “The Youth are the Future: The Imperative of Youth Employment for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean” highlighted that sluggish economic growth in Caribbean countries has resulted in increased unemployment among youth and in particular women.
He said the challenges faced by young people include, limited or no credit history which makes it difficult for them to access financing, lack of family support as well as limited availability of funds which offers less margin for business errors.
As part of the banks continued efforts to address some of these challenges, a Youth Policy and Operational Strategy is being developed that will guide its support to gender sensitive and socially inclusive youth development in the borrowing member countries.
Recognizing that access to finance is critical for entrepreneurial ventures, Best disclosed that they provide financial lines of credit to development finance institutions for on-lending to entrepreneurs.
The project, which will also be rolled out in St. Lucia, Dominica, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago has gained support from Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Commerce Dwight Sutherland.
Delivering the feature address, he stressed the importance of promoting youth entrepreneurship both as a driver of economic enfranchisement and social inclusion.
“This government as have other regional governments, identified that any strategy to combat youth unemployment must begin with innovation and entrepreneurship to stimulate enterprise and job creation. However, our young people face a barrage of challenges in starting or growing their business,” the minister stated.
He noted that ongoing research has identified that access to capital, entrepreneurial self-belief and application-based entrepreneurial training can help redress challenges the youth face.