Thirty-nine (39) young Saint Lucians are now further empowered to propel their business thanks to the Youth Economy Agency (YEA).
During a brief ceremony on Wednesday 24th May, 2023 the Agency disbursed funds for 39 new grant recipients at its offices on Chaussee Road in Castries.
A total of $66,558.02 was handed over to the young entrepreneurs, who were addressed by YEA Chairperson, Mr. Thomas Leonce, and Business Development Officer, Mrs. Ginel Mondesir, as well as hearing from some of their fellow recipients.
According to Mr. Leonce, Wednesday’s ceremony was noteworthy not only because it represented the largest disbursement to date, but also because it showcased several different business categories, as well as entrepreneurs from across the island’s length and breadth.
“I think we took quite a leap today,’ he said. “We started off a bit slow, I think we’re running a 400m race, you know. So, we’ve had two batches of disbursements so far, the first one 11 disbursements, the second one also 11. But today we did 39. That makes me very happy, it suggests we are progressing and moving at a faster pace than before. But what I was also happy about was the range of businesses that were supported. There were businesses involved in cosmetology, beauticians, spas, maritime services, quite a range, marketing, shipping, fitness, elderly care, event planning, food and beverage, restaurants and bars, and what have you. So that is what really excited me. And what gave me pleasure as well, they came from across the island, from as far as Soufriere, a few from Dennery, so the geographical spread is good., It means we are touching a number of areas simultaneously, and a number of industries simultaneously.”
Mr. Jurgen Montoute, the proprietor of Horizon Waves Water Sports and Charters, insists that the YEA grant will be very impactful for his business.
He will be using the money to purchase more equipment, to hire additional operators, and to provide training and certification for his team. The Gros Islet native says the existence of the Youth Economy Agency has increased his level of confidence in the business climate.
“I would definitely say that it has. Whenever you ask entrepreneurs in Saint Lucia what’s one of the main challenges they are facing, all of them will tell you access to finance. Whether that be a small business or a large business, everybody says access to financing is one of their biggest challenges. And I would say the youth economy directly addresses that gap. So, you know, I’m definitely confident, and I would like to see the initiative to continue and to grow as well.”
Miss Cassie Emmanuel, founder and manager of AdRight Media, a digital marketing brand that caters to small businesses, will be expanding her business by acquiring a new workstation, camera, recording and storage devices.
She says that the extension of funding from the agency, which has only been in operation since March, is a testament to how valued the recipients are.
“This grant is not just an investment made towards your business, but it is an investment made towards our future and self-sustainability. The YEA makes us young entrepreneurs hopeful, so we know that we can get the support we need through mentorship, the training that we require through the skills and training programmes, and we have a dependable body that believes in us, that can support, encourage, and contribute to us being self-employed.”
YEA has now provided grants to 61 young Saint Lucians, in addition to furnishing training for 100 emerging business owners.
Several of the agency’s recipients have been among those undergoing training over the past three weeks with the support of the Taiwan Technical Mission.
YEA has also opened a call for mentorship, with potential mentors able to sign up via youtheconomy.lc, and in coming weeks, young entrepreneurs across the island will have the opportunity to interact with one another, and with more experienced businesspersons, in a series of business mixers.
SOURCE: Youth Economy Agency