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The Youth Enterprise Development Fund Takes Off

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The signing of the Youth Enterprise Project - 2004

The signing of the Youth Enterprise Project - 2004

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 – Thirteen young people will undergo a thirty hour Personal Development Training Programme from Friday May 13th through to Sunday May 15, 2005 as part of the first segment of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF).

The Youth Enterprise Development Fund which is being funded by the Commonwealth Youth Programme CYP and the Government of Saint Lucia is being implemented by the James Belgrave Micro Enterprise Development Fund BELFUND with assistance from the National Skills Development Centre NSDC.

According to the Manager of BELFUND Mr. Marcellus Joseph, the Personnel Development Training Programme is designed to assist entrepreneurs to acquire the knowledge and skills which will aid in their personal growth and development. “At the end of the programme participants should be able to improve their understanding of self and others with whom they have to interact; understand the impact of human growth and development on behaviour and personality; acquire tools for visioning, goal setting and good leadership and acquire knowledge and skills for family life improvement.”

Following this initial training, participants will undergo a ninety hour business management training programme which is expected to commence on Tuesday May 17th. “The aspect of the training which include topics such as Entrepreneurship and Income Generating Activity, Managing Money and Savings, Feasibility Study, Marketing and Selling Techniques and Managing People and Customer Relations, is to instil and/or sharpen the business management skills of participants, in an effort to sufficiently prepare them to operate their own micro businesses in an effective and efficient manner, towards achieving sustainability and profitability.” Mr. Joseph said.

It was during his 2004/2005 Budget Presentation that Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony articulated the need for greater social participation by youth of the society. The Prime Minister said that government also recognised that social participation without economic enfranchisement is a rather hollow ideal. “Thus we approached the Commonwealth Youth Programme to secure a portfolio of resources to specifically target young people between the ages of eighteen to thirty years, allowing for interventions that would permit them to engage in viable economic ventures,” explained Dr. Anthony.

The Commonwealth Youth Programme agreed to make available a sum of twenty thousand pounds sterling (£20,000) or approximately $94,000.00 to launch a new Youth Enterprise Development Fund. This, according to Dr. Anthony, is a modest start, but once established it is expected that more resources will be directed to the Fund. “The Belfund shall be used as the window through which we shall collaborate with the Commonwealth Youth Programme in managing this Enterprise Fund. We expect the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to have a number of positive effects on the communities throughout the island. For instance;

  • There will be more opportunities for disadvantaged youth to create their own enterprises and acquire new skills. They will be so empowered as to be able to participate in more social, economic and political activities.
  • As more young persons gain the experience of running successful enterprises, it will mean more young people becoming economic leaders in their communities.
  • Young people will have greater access to knowledge as a result of acquiring information and communication technology (ICT).
  • There will be a stronger partnership between Government, the private sector, NGOs and other organisations.
  • There will be a strengthening of the support structures for youth development.

During the budget presentation the Prime Minister urged the private sector, NGOs and community organisations to join hands to forge a strong partnership with Government to address issues of youth unemployment, job creation and economic growth. “As already stated, the Government cannot do it all. Hence the private sector is encouraged to increase investment in the youth because by so doing, they will be investing in the sustainable future of this country.” He said.

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