US President Barack Obama chose yesterday’s town hall session with youth leaders from across the Caribbean to launch the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) to expand opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society activists. The announcement was well received by the young people in attendance, who represent a very small fraction of the under-35 population in the Caribbean and Latin America (58 per cent of the population.)
According to the YLAI fact sheet, this programme “[builds] on the success of the President’s young leader initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, YLAI will incubate and accelerate the work of young business and civil society leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States.”
Here are some quick facts about the YLAI:
- It will provide 250 fellowships each year to enable participants from the United States and the region to develop joint business and civil society initiatives. The preponderance of the fellowships will take place at universities, incubators, and non-governmental organizations across the United States, while follow-on exchanges will send Americans to Latin America and the Caribbean to continue the collaboration. YLAI fellows will receive ongoing support through a continuum of networking, mentorship, and investment opportunities.
- It aims to foster more than 50 formal business and civil society partnerships each year between emerging entrepreneurial and civil society entities in Latin America and the Caribbean with their counterparts in the United States. As part of the President’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative, YLAI will contribute to the United States’ global goal of generating $1 billion dollars for emerging business and social entrepreneurs by the end of 2017, by helping fellows attract new support, investments and in-kind resources for their business or organization each year.
- The fellowship will include six weeks of training, immersion at an incubator, accelerator, or civil society organization, and a summit in Washington, DC to facilitate mentoring, networking, and investment opportunities.
- YLAI will commence this year with a pilot program involving 24 participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba. The pilot program will focus on the creation and expansion of business and civil society initiatives that utilize technology by embedding participants in incubators and accelerators across the United States. The first class of 250 fellows will begin in 2016. Sign up here to stay informed.