ACCORDING to a spokesperson, the latest presentation of grants from the Youth Economy Agency has taken the number of young entrepreneurs supported by the agency to 253, with more than EC $1,000,000 having been disbursed in support of these emerging companies.
This was YEA’s biggest presentation to date, with 55 Saint Lucians between the ages of 15 and 35 being brought on board.
The businesses that have been assisted in this latest round of disbursements are engaged in real estate, agro-processing, the creative arts, retailing, tourism and accommodation, food and beverage, cosmetology, design, farming, graphic design, videography, auto repair, health and wellness, landscaping, architecture, and small manufacturing, among others.
This latest cohort includes representatives from the communities of Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Canaries, Gros Islet, Mon Repos, Micoud, Babonneau, Vieux Fort, Dennery, Anse La Raye, and Castries.
At the biggest presentation ceremony thus far on Tuesday (August 29) at the Orchid Garden, recipients were addressed by Thomas Leonce, Chairperson of the Youth Economy Agency. Leonce expressed his satisfaction with the progress being made by the agency.
He noted that since YEA was launched in March, several grant recipients as well as persons having received training through the organisation have begun working together, creating what he calls a “youth economy ecosystem.” One such example is a small manufacturer who recently began exporting products to Canada using a logistics company that is also a grant recipient.
Tanzania Mathurin-Fedee, who operates a number of businesses, including Safi Tours in Soufriere, was among the recipients on the day. She delivered a motivational speech, encouraging her fellow young innovators to apply to YEA and to make the most of the opportunity being handed to them.
In addition to furnishing over 250 business owners with grants between April and August of this year, YEA has also been involved in the training of Business Planning and Digital Marketing for more than 100 individuals, with a further tranche of Digital Marketing training set to get underway this month.
The agency has paired more than 30 young people with experienced mentors, who are providing one-on-one coaching over a six-month period.
Most recently, YEA began providing concessions on the import of equipment and inputs for young entrepreneurs.