– Business grants and guidance

– 200 youths learn leadership skills

– $1.7Billion allocated for 2019

This year (2018) will go down as the year when young people all across Guyana finally had their concerns heard while being offered numerous opportunities geared towards their empowerment.

This was part of a major push by the Coalition Government that continues to place emphasis on youth development as led by Minister of Social Cohesion, with responsibility for Youth, Dr. George Norton and Director of Youth, Melissa Carmichael-Haynes.

Youth Business Summit

Entrepreneurship was one of the key areas of focus in 2018 by creating avenues where young people could become empowered and self-employed. Training, mentorship and even funding were available to hundreds of young people.news 20181228 4

In May, the Youth Department hosted the first ever Youth Business Summit. There young entrepreneurs from across the country were gathered and told of the steps needed to become successful business owners. At the end of that summit, eleven young entrepreneurs secured funding up to $1M to either start or expand their businesses. Some of the innovative business ideas included production of prosthetic limbs via three-dimensional (3D) printing, a clothing line and the expansion of a drone service to do mapping of the country.

Malcolm Wills, Rashley Ferguson and Elton Newton are partners of Dynamic Enterprise, a medical supplies business who will be designing the prosthetic limbs. Wills said that they were “very much grateful for the opportunity afforded to us today, I believe this summit was a great initiative and it gave me a lot of drive to continue in the field of entrepreneurship and business.”

Minister Norton said that the idea behind the summit was to equip youths with all the tools needed for them to turn their dreams into a reality.

Young people also received five days of training provided by the Youth Department under its Financial Literacy and Small Business Training programme. There, they were taught income expenses and budgeting, financial responsibility, credit and debt issues, decision making and action planning, all of which are tools required to run successful businesses. They were even tasked to develop business plans which were submitted to the Small Business Bureau to receive startup funding.

The Youth Director was quoted as saying that it is only through such “initiatives that we will provide our future nation builders with the opportunity to gain knowledge and training resources and opportunities to equip them with the skills to create employment.”

200 Youths Learn About Leadership

Growth and development can happen once the right environment or opportunities are presented. The government has recognized this and in 2018 hosted a three-day Inaugural Youth Conference where over 200 young people from every region of Guyana were involved.

Hosted under the theme “Youth Perspective for Empowerment and Development for a Better Guyana”, it focused on networking, closing cultural gaps, building a cohesive youth body and providing young people with a safe space for meaningful discussions.news 20181228 3

During the conference, the young people were afforded the opportunity to identify and present solutions to social ills that affect them daily. They were also engaged in a number of open discussions with senior government officials where they were not shy about letting their voices be heard.

Kadi-Ann Rowe said the conference was more than what she had bargained for and was hopeful that the ideas and recommendations put forward by the young participants would be carefully considered and action taken. Additionally, Rowe said as a result of the conference, she was now equipped with the tools necessary to lead. “Young people want to be involved but in order to be a part of something; to really hold a position in governance, there needs to be capacity and we need to build that capacity to function in positions when we are placed there.”news 20181228 5

Director of Youth, Melissa Carmichael-Haynes said the recommendations made by the young people will be taken on board. “We are listening to their concerns but we are not the only entity to put systems in place, we have to work with our sister ministries to ensure that their needs are met.”

A total of 13 youths also received scholarships to study at the Cacique Accounting College and Global Technology.

Additionally, a total of 30 youth groups were granted $45M as part of the Youth Department’s Youth Innovation Project of Guyana. Each group is required to develop innovative ideas to advance their communities through the use of either Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, Mathematics or Spirituality (STEAMS).

Some of the projects being pursued include adding value to sorrel by developing a powder. This will be carried out in the Region 10 community of Kwakwani which is expected to create dozens of jobs once the product is fully developed.

Another innovative idea on board is the development of an air trolley for airports. The aim is to boost tourism within the country. Once completed, it is said that it would place Guyana ahead of most countries within the Caribbean.

If that was not enough, for young people, a number of youth leadership training programmes were held throughout the year and these have trained hundreds of young people since their inception in 2016. Youths who have completed the training indicated that the programme is one which has equipped them with the tools necessary for leading.

The young people were subjected to training in critical thinking, mobilising and organising youth, conducting effective meetings, meeting minutes and report writing, policy formulation and implementation, democracy, rule of law and good governance, income, expenditure and budgeting, social psychology and team building.

$1.7B for Youth Development

Of the $300.7Billion of the 2019 National Budget, a substantial $1.7Billion was allocated for youth development.news 20181228 1

Additional entrepreneurial avenues are available under the Ministry of Social Protection for which $250M has been allocated and another $100M under the Small Business Development Fund under the Ministry of Business. Another $218M is accessible for small businesses through the Linden Enterprise Network.

The Social Cohesion Minister, during his 2019 National Budget presentation, said the ministry is “encouraging groups, cooperatives and job-seeking individuals to take advantage of the many schemes, programmes and funding opportunities that are available for youths to be their own boss, including the Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development programme.”