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Obama's leaders - Eight Jamaicans selected for young entrepreneurs initiative in the US

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser
Miguel ‘Steppa’ Williams
Javette Nixon
Kadeem Pet-Grave
Tishauna Mullings
Latoya West Blackwood
Craslyn Benjamin
Renee Stewart
Patria-Kaye Aarons

A little over a year after United States President Barack Obama visited Jamaica and announced his flagship Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), the first crop of young people to participate in the programme has been announced.

The US Embassy yesterday announced the names of the eight Jamaicans selected as YLAI fellows.

Five of them are female entrepreneurs Patria-Kaye Aarons, Craslyn Benjamin, Tishauna Mullings, Renee Stewart and Latoya West-Blackwood.

Javette Nixon, Kadeem Pet-Grave and social outreach specialist Miguel 'Steppa' Williams round out the list of male fellows.


Five-week programme


The fellows will travel to the United States for a five-week programme that will expose them to a number of activities aimed at strengthening their leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurial skills.

They will also be provided with opportunities to network with US entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors.

The programme will include an opening session that will introduce participants to US government, business, and culture and provide relevant leadership development training; a two-week professional placement for each fellow with a practical skill-based business incubator organisation; homestay with an American family to experience US culture and participate in skills development workshops as well as community site visits related to entrepreneurship and innovation.

The participants are expected to develop business plans over the course of the programme and present their plan at the closing.

They are scheduled to leave the island on October 3.

Javette Nixon, founder of Point Global Marketing, in giving initial reactions to the news that he was selected as a fellow said: "I am elated. I am very happy to have been selected. I am looking forward to the exposure and am really happy to be a part of the programme."

Nixon indicated that he was anticipating the opportunity to network with other young entrepreneurs from across the globe and to get an inside look at how other businesses operate on a global scale.

When The Gleaner caught up with Kadeem Pet-Grave, co-founder and CEO of Educatours JA Ltd, he confessed that he was surprised that he had made the cut from what was a highly competitive selection process.

"It was a great feeling to find out I was chosen because it's something I really need right now," he said.

The University of the West Indies graduate said he would be using the YLAI as a platform to seek funding to grow his educational tour company, which has been in operation for over a year.

YLAI, one of four programmes within the Young Leaders Initiatives, is part of Obama's commitment to empower young people around the world and ensure they have the tools, skills, and networks to tackle shared global challenges. Two hundred and fifty young people from around the world will participate in the programme.