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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — United States Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry L. Palmer recently announced US$4.4 million in new awards to bolster youth entrepreneurship in the Eastern Caribbean. The two awards will be administered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The first award of US$2 million over three years is to Youth Business International for the “Youth Entrepreneurship Programme for the Eastern Caribbean” (YEPEC) which will raise the profile of entrepreneurship to youth aged 18-35 through the provision of services including education and training, business mentoring, and assistance with access to capital to assist with business start-ups.

YEPEC will strengthen the Youth Business Trust model through the establishment of a regional Centre of Excellence that will strengthen regional approaches to entrepreneurship development in St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada. The programme will also include the development of a regional research survey and publication promoting entrepreneurship; the publishing of best practices to be used by primary stakeholders; and the facilitation of greater integration amongst entrepreneurs across the region.

The second grant of US$2.4 million over three years to Junior Achievement Worldwide will support the development of business skills among youth in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean thereby assisting in the transition process from school to work. Youth benefitting under the programme will target youth aged 15-18 who are mainly in the school system. “Junior Achievement in the Eastern Caribbean” (JAPEC) will be managed out of the JA Barbados office and will raise the understanding of business skills and financial literacy of over 15,000 youth across the eastern Caribbean. JAPEC will support the strengthening of existing Junior Achievement chapters in Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. It will also review the viability of JA in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda with options for programming there. The programme will engage the business community to invest in the development of youth through mentorship, apprenticeship/internship and partnership.

“These two programme initiatives will complement each other. They will lead to an increase in employment opportunities for youth and contribute to the growth of entrepreneurship in the region,” Palmer said in announcing the award at the office of the Barbados Youth Business Trust on May 24.

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