Over 300 students representing 40 schools from across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) are now more self-aware of their potential to be leaders having attended the first-ever ECCU Youth LEAD Conference for secondary schools on Jan. 19.

The forum, which was conducted via video conference, allowed parliamentarians, representatives of the business sector and educators to share their insights on leadership and entrepreneurship with the students and teachers in attendance.

In his welcoming remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, St Kitts and Nevis, Shawn Richards, reminded the students that innovation begins with them. He encouraged the students to maximise the various opportunities available for their self-development and that of their respective countries.

Sen. Winston Garraway, Minister of State within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Religious Affairs, Grenada who delivered the opening remarks, challenged the students to place learning, empowering of self and others, achievement of their goals and self-development as the basis of their growth and success.

The challenging yet rewarding journey of entrepreneurship and leadership was highlighted by the presenters as they encouraged the students to tap into their creative side to become problem solvers and innovators; to pursue their passion, to plan their success in a systematic and disciplined manner, to seek out business partners and mentors who share their vision and values. Additionally, several hands-on activities afforded the students opportunities to share experiences and network with their peers from across the region.

In their evaluation of the Conference, the students echoed the following sentiments: “I never thought I could be a leader”; “I am thinking now of the possibility of entrepreneurship”; “It helped me focus on my talents and how I can develop those talents into forming a business”.

At the end of the conference, the students were invited to capitalise on the learning and insights gained by conceptualising, developing and submitting their ‘Innovative Business Idea’ for a chance to win an attractive cash prize. The deadline for submitting the entries is Feb. 21.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), in collaboration with its Financial Information Month (FIM) partners, hosted the conference. This conference is expected to be developed as an annual event and thereby empower and create enabling environments for youth leadership and entrepreneurship development in the region.