Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Growth & Jobs | No vacation - YLAI participants going to work in US company

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2017 | 12:02 AM
Eric Khant, Charge d'affaires at the United States Ebassy, talks with some of the young entrepreneurs selected for the YLAI programme at the launch held at the chief of mission's residence in St Andrew on Friday.

For the eight Jamaicans taking part in the 2017 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) their three weeks in the United States will not be a vacation but a working exchange in the fullest sense, according to Christine Meyer, public affairs officer at the United States Embassy.

"The participants are going there, not on vacation. I hope that they can have a little bit of fun but they are going to be working and they are going to be working start up hours and start up hours are not nine to five. Start up hours are whenever you need to do the work," she told The Gleaner Friday during the launch reception at the residence of the US Chief of Mission

The Jamaicans who will leave the island on Tuesday, October 3 are among emerging entrepreneurs and civil society activists in the Western Hemisphere drawn from Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States who are connected through this fellowship, with influential persons in their respective fields.


Enhancement of ideas


"The YLAI network is a group of young entrepreneurs from all over the hemisphere and the idea behind it is that if you can connect a young entrepreneur from the United States with one from Jamaica, with one from Mexico and one from Argentina, they are not only going to have their own great ideas but they are going to enhance each other's ideas. And this is good for the productivity of the whole hemisphere," Meyer explained.

"So there'll be some time when they are going to be together as a group or they'll be together in workshops where they find new tools, hear from speakers, but most of the time they are in the United States they are going to be embedded with a US company."

All participants applied and were selected in a very competitive process across the hemisphere on the merit of their individually unique activities and will be required to really work for the programme to work, Meyer insisted.

... 'This is an exchange programme, not a mentorship'

"This is an exchange programme, this isn't a mentorship, because there is a difference," said Christine Meyer, public affairs officer at the United States Embassy.

She was making reference to the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative in which a group of Jamaicans will participate. "They might have a mentor in the company (to which they will be attached), somebody that might have more experience, but the idea is that this is truly an exchange. The idea is that the people from Jamaica are going with an idea or with ideas that they are going to share with their counterparts in the United States, and the US people are gonna have ideas that they share with the Jamaican participants or the Mexican participants or whatever.

"So it's really about creating and growing the network and keeping things going - it strengthens business, and having a strong economy also strengthens our economy throughout the hemisphere. There will be other people from different countries there at the same time, but they won't all be at the same company.

To this end, the Jamaicans and other non-American participants will be involved in the decision-making process while on the fellowship, and it is anticipated that the things they learn will be applied to their own businesses, which will result in improved economic and other positive outputs.