CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has launched the St. Lucia Youth Economy Agency (YEA), marking a transformative leap towards youth empowerment and economic advancement.
The project was launched in collaboration with the St. Lucia government and under the agreement, US$7.6 million will be allocated to the initiative that the bank said is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of more than 3000 young individuals.
The YEA, approved in July last year, is designed to provide business training or financing for aspiring young entrepreneurs, aged 15 to 35.
“As a pivotal element in promoting social inclusivity and gender responsiveness, the project is set to engage 600 young people in intensive business development, planning, marketing, and management training. Additionally, 120 youths will receive personalised business mentoring, coaching, and financial support,” the CDB said.
It said beyond individual capacity-building, the project aims to support over 3,000 young individuals, aged 18 to 25, in various enterprise activities encompassing agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, retail, and the services industries, spanning the blue, green, and orange economies.
“The timely project will drive youth economic empowerment and contribute to investment and capacity development in youth-led enterprises with the ultimate goal of mitigating youth unemployment and enhancing social resilience.
“The project’s commitment to social inclusivity and gender equality, will ensure that services, investments, and operations cater to the diverse needs of men, women, boys, and girls,” the CDB said.
“We absolutely see the value in this as a viable development solution. This is a solemn obligation to the generations that are here that will assure that our young people will continue to thrive,” said CDB Division Chief, Dr Martin Baptiste.
He said the YEA is “truly transformational,” adding “this project is here because the future is now”.
The chief executive officer of the Youth Economy Agency, Bryan Vidal,said the YEA is anticipating significant personal growth among its clientele.
“In providing resources to the agency, the bank has endorsed the vision of Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre, further enabling our expanded cadre of officers to do even more to grow the youth entrepreneur ecosystem. With their assistance, we are now better poised to water the roots, and to place our clients in positions where they can bloom,” said Vidal, adding that the YEA is pleased with the response to the project.
“The YEA was created to support St. Lucia’s young entrepreneurs through interventions including funding and training, to plant the seeds for the next generation of business leaders. From inception, we have been overwhelmed by the volume of interest from eligible persons, clearly indicative of the need for such an organisation. We are delighted that the CDB has also recognised the agency as fit for purpose,” Vidal said.
The CDB said that the launch reinforces the strengthened partnership between bank and St. Lucia since January 2023, with initiatives and agreements exceeding US$63 million in loan and grant funding, including co-financing commitments from the Government and donor partners including the InterAmerican Development and the European Investment Bank.