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The CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. (File photo)

Entrepreneurship is one way to combat youth and migrant unemployment in the Caribbean – Gittens

The CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. (File photo)

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in partnership with the European Union is of the opinion that indeed, entrepreneurship should be part of the curriculum taught to youths and as part of the re-integration programme for unemployed nationals returning from other parts of the Caribbean.

The CARICOM Secretatariat

In mid-October a new programme launched in the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and the nation of Belize is aimed at teaching young persons and persons displaced from work in other Caribbean nations the rudiments of starting a business as a means to combat unemployment, a press release from CARICOM announced.
Led by CARICOM, it is the project of the European Development Fund (EDF) supported by Creativity for Employment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) programme.

In the programme, the participants are expected to form themselves into mock companies, pitch a business idea to the ‘CEBO Bank’ to apply for a loan which they receive only after a successful pitch. This approach also involves the participants going out into the field to market and sell their product or service then return to the workshop facilitators with profit and loss statements. At the end of the exercises, they are allowed to keep the loan along with the profits.

‘An entrepreneurship programme currently being implemented in her country by the CARICOM Secretariat and partners can help to combat high youth unemployment.’

Other island nations to previously participate in the early 2019 staging of the programme were Jamaica, Barbados, Haiti and Belize. Speaking at the October 17th launch of the programme,

Permanent Secretary in the Youth Affairs Ministry in St Vincent of the Grenadines, Nerissa Gittens, was of the opinion that an entrepreneurship programme currently being implemented in her country by the CARICOM Secretariat and partners can help to combat high youth unemployment.

Permanent Secretary in the Youth Affairs Ministry in St Vincent of the Grenadines, Nerissa Gittens (Photo: api.gov.vc)

Gittens, was speaking at the opening of a Training of Trainers Creativity for Empowerment and Business Opportunity (CEBO) event at the Beachcombers Hotel.

According to the Permanent Secretary, the latest statistics reveals that the country’s youth accounts for 26 per cent of the population in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that demographic had the highest unemployment rate. She said that was a problem that needed to be addressed. She also lamented that all too often the problems of youth unemployment are never outlined and its consequences not given priority.

She went on to declare that persons said the right thing when they thought it was the right time with the right people listening, but no tangible action is ever taken. She told the youngsters gathered that the reason they were at the workshop was for some of those challenges to be addressed.

Statistics show that youth in St Vincent and the Grenadines have the highest rate of unemployment. (Photo: worldatlas.com)

According to the Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development within the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Hilary Brown, focus will be on “high energy engagement with young people.”

In an interview with the CARICOM Secretariat’s Communication Unit, Dr Brown noted that several success stories have emanated from the CEBO training programme. She said Member States, including The Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis, have integrated the model into their youth programmes and conducted follow-up workshops in country after being introduced to the CEBO model.

The CEBO Programme was developed in 2011 by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with a regional technical working group and started in 2012 to engage, inspire and create entrepreneurial interest and action among young CARICOM nationals in and out of school.

Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development within the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Hilary Brown (Photo: CARICOM)

Describing the programme as a “regional public good” for youth training from which all Member States can benefit, Dr Brown said two comprehensive manuals: facilitators and participants, have been significant outputs.

She said a partners meeting in each of the countries in this round of the CEBO programme, is an important component, against the recognition that young entrepreneurs need support from various actors including government and the private sector to be successful.

Since its inception, the CEBO Programme has been implemented in 13 countries. Apart from its traditional target population, this phase of its implementation is focusing on CARICOM nationals who have faced involuntarily separation from other countries. This emphasis has resonance in the CARICOM Regional Crime Prevention Strategy which proposes actions to address the determinants of crime, including the re-integration of deportees.