CDB supporting efforts to reduce youth unemployment through entrepreneurship
Helping young people to become self-employed is part of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) strategy to address high youth unemployment in the Region.
Director of Projects at the Bank, Daniel Best outlined the Bank’s pursuit of this objective during the recent launch of a new youth entrepreneurship project ‘Strengthening the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Caribbean Youth’. The launch was held on March 18 at CDB’s Headquarters in Wildey in Barbados.
He noted that a 2015 CDB study revealed that the Region had one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world and “with nearly 25 per cent of youth unemployed”; the Bank saw a need to support projects which addressed this problem directly.
“Harnessing the entrepreneurial talents of the Region’s young people and easing the constraints of the labour market are vital ingredients for creating inclusive and sustainable growth,” stated Best.
The project, which is financed by CDB and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is an initiative of Youth Business International through several youth business trusts in the Region. At least 350 young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 35 in five CDB Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) – Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago - will receive training and mentoring.
The project is being coordinated by CDB’s Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) and includes face-to-face training to be held at the Youth Business Trusts (YBTs) as well as community-based training to be carried out in select underserved communities in in the target countries. It also includes an e-learning platform and business after care services for these fledgling enterprises.
Speaking at the event, Barbados’ Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Honourable Dwight Sutherland, said entrepreneurship had to be part of the solution to youth unemployment:
“I am, therefore, intrigued by the passion demonstrated by the Region’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises stakeholders’ effort to pursue this path of entrepreneurial development, especially given the urgent need to significantly reduce the unemployment rate among the island’s youth which stands in excess of a staggering 29.3 per cent. Any strategy to combat youth unemployment must start with innovation and entrepreneurship,” stated Minister Sutherland.
Best underscored the urgency of the project by placing it against the background of the Region’s large youth population, noting:
“… Young people make up approximately 63 percent of the population in our Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs). Therefore enhancing youth entrepreneurship development must be a regional priority as that will contribute to countering youth unemployment which in turn helps mitigate social degradation, and builds economic resilience. With young people making up such a large proportion of our population, they are a group that is too big to fail.”