Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Youth entrepreneurship tech programme to address unemployment

Published:Monday | January 23, 2017 | 1:35 PM
In this December 2012, job seekers queue at the St John's Ambulance headquarters at Camp Road, St Andrew.

Following the success of a youth technology employment programme in Jamaica, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the World Bank have established a tech programme to provide business support services for young entrepreneurs in Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and Haiti.

CDB said applications are now open for the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Programme (CTEP), which tailors support for participants according to the stage at which the entrepreneur or firm is currently operating.

In a release, CDB said CTEP addresses two main problems faced by youth – the lack of appropriate job opportunities and the lack of a regional strategy to promote entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Bank said it follows the successful Youth Employment in Digital Animation Industries project in Jamaica.

Participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are eligible to apply.

The programme’s coordinator, Troy Weekes, speaking from CDB headquarters in Barbados on January 20 during a video conference with potential participants, noted that CTEP was unique in the way it collaborates with entrepreneurs that are selected.

“CTEP is comprised of a set of activities that are aligned to three distinct entrepreneurial stages – the idea stage, the validation stage and the revenue stage,” he said.

“Also, it is based on direct consultations with entrepreneurs and it fosters collaboration between partners and stakeholders within the Caribbean entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Weekes added.

Lisa Harding, Operations Officer, CDB and Project Supervisor of the CDB/World Bank Caribbean Animation and Technology Capacity Building Programme, with which CTEP is aligned,  said the programme “is an initiative that can contribute to the enhanced capacity of young entrepreneurs involved in the information and communications technology industry, foster opportunities for enhanced employability, improve income-earning opportunities and increase opportunities for entrepreneurship – all  of which are important drivers for inclusive growth for CDB’s borrowing member countries.”

The selection process takes place during the period February 11–15. Successful entrepreneurs and start-ups for the specific tracks will be announced on February 20. The incubation programme will run from March 1–May 31.

CTEP is an initiative of the CDB and the World Bank Group in partnership with the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre.

In September 2014, Jamaica signed a US$20 million loan agreement with the World Bank to fund the Youth Employment in Digital Animation Industry project.

It was aimed at training tech entrepreneurs and facilitating some 150 business start-ups. The Ministry of Finance said then that the project aimed to reach about 15,000 young people.

- mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com