Fri | May 24, 2019

US embassy more than visas

Published:Sunday | September 24, 2017 | 12:30 AMChristopher Serju
Eric Khant (left), charge d'affaires at the United States Embassy, speaks with some of the entrepreneurs selected for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) during the 2017 launch held Friday at the chief of mission's residence in St Andrew on Friday. The YLAI seeks to provide unique opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society activists in the Western Hemisphere. It develops and accelerates the work of young business and civil society leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States by connecting them with influential persons in their respective fields. Since its launch, YLAI has provided 250 fellowships each year to enable participants from the United States, The Caribbean and Latin America to develop joint business and civil society initiatives. YLAI fellows receive ongoing support through a continuum of networking, mentorship, and investment opportunities. Last year, Mission Jamaica had eight fellows, and this year the Mission has another eight fellows.

For many Jamaicans, the United States Embassy has long been nothing more than the place where one applies for a visa to visit family and friends ­ whether for vacation or permanent residency. But for emerging entrepreneurs, it can be much more, according to political officer Bion Bliss.

The commercial office is so named because it does offer a range of services designed to promote business between locals and Americans.

“We try to ramp up and enable American investors to come down here and look at opportunities in Jamaica. We have an office that tries to connect them with distributors, budding entrepreneurs, small companies and the like,” Bliss disclosed on Friday. He was addressing a function in recognition of the Jamaican recipients of the 2017 Young Leaders of the Americas fellowship.


Prosperity for the United States, as well as Jamaica, is very much in keeping with the long-term bilateral interest, given that the North American country is the island’s strongest trade partner.

“We are here to help,” Bliss told the youngsters.

“Maybe you’d like to get plugged into a lot of that activity in terms of how you can develop those networks and relations, plug into programmes on economic issues.”

The opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises do not extend to financial, Bliss acknowledged, while touting potentially significant value of the networking, training and learning opportunities that could translate into tangible economic benefits.

Seven Jamaicans have been nominated to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be hosted jointly by the United States of America and India from November 28-30 in the Indian city of Hyderabad.