YEA Plans for Wider Outreach to Assist Young Entrepreneurs

A facilitator tutors young entrepreneurs at the YEA Investment Forum
A facilitator tutors young entrepreneurs at the YEA Investment Forum

This year, the Youth Economy Agency (YEA) is looking to expand its services to young entrepreneurs.

According to official sources, YEA plans to undertake an intensive outreach programme with the aim of exposing young entrepreneurs to YEA’s business opportunities.

YEA’s Chief Executive Officer, Brain Vidal provided an update on the agency’s achievements thus far and plans for future business training initiatives with more diverse subjects. The added courses will include investment and digital marketing.

The disbursements are set to begin this year, and Vidal reassured applicants that they have not been forgotten.

“As it relates to loans …we have to ensure that the process is consistent for all of our stakeholders involved,” he said.

Vidal explained that YEA has secured funding for the loans and the next step will involve the implementation drive that is due to start “anytime from now… and we will be in a position to disburse loans.”

Maximum loans of $30,000.00 will be made available to qualified businesses at a rate of 3% with a time frame of six-years for payment of the loan.

Since YEA began its operations in April 2023, reports indicate that at least 400 young persons have each received $5,000 grants totaling approximately $1.3 million.

Vidal noted that access to outside investments, is another new and exciting feature from which young entrepreneurs can benefit, this year.

“When it comes to access to finance, it is always good to have different areas to access finance,” he said. “So, the idea behind the investment fund is to show the young business entrepreneurs… that there are options to access finance as opposed to the traditional methods of obtaining loans and all of this.”

Particularly, he said, the venture provides these young people with an opportunity “to market themselves, in terms of how to deal with a potential investor …and this gives you an opportunity to market your product to a new market.”

Vidal has more than 10 years’ experience in the Micro, Medium and Small business development and is passionate about seeing small businesses grow into medium and ultimately big businesses.

He noted that the agency plays a critical role in social development by creating employment. As of December 2023, there was a total of about 1,700 applicants to YEA’s programme with growing interest in the youth venture.

Meanwhile, the inaugural YEA Investment Forum witnessed more than 100 young entrepreneurs being tutored and inspired on various subject matters by experts from Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean. Topics covered involved, Promoting Investment in Agriculture; Promoting Investment in Digital Economy; Artificial Intelligence; Tourism & Hospitality – Beyond Sun, Sea, and Sand; Game Changers – The Next Big Thing; and Investing in Youth Entrepreneurship.

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