YLAI – Creating Unique Opportunities for Young Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Embassy in Kingston, in collaboration with the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean, and Meridian International Center hosted the “Young Leaders of the Americas (YLAI) Regional Workshop on Entrepreneurship”. The event served to examine unique challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, and encourage growth and collaboration outside of the region.

Over 100 young entrepreneurs representing twenty countries from the Caribbean (including Belize, Cuba, and Guyana) convened at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on June 5-6, 2017.

They, alongside senior officials from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassy Kingston, Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean, as well as top entrepreneurs from across the United States, shared in sessions which facilitated entrepreneurship training, networking and knowledge-sharing.

United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G. Moreno also hosted a reception for participants on the first evening of the workshop. He encouraged them to stay the course and to build on the gains made through the YLAI network.  He asserted that the “the biggest hindrance to entrepreneurship is a fear of failure, and I don’t see a lot of that in the YLAI Network.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group and Branson Centre, headlined the 2-day workshop.  He discussed how entrepreneurship in the Caribbean can and will move the region forward economically and shared personal insights on how individuals may drive their businesses to the next level. One of his best pieces of advice to the entrepreneurs in the room was to “find someone better than you to run your company on a day-to-day basis.”  By doing this it frees young business owners to expand their network and seek opportunities to grow their ventures.


Additional workshop highlights included a keynote presentation by American entrepreneur and artist, Chase Jarvis, CEO of CreativeLive and a Forum immersion mini-course led by the global membership association Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The YLAI Regional Workshop allowed participants to maximize opportunities for entrepreneurial networking and linkages; leverage diversity in the audience to inspire collaboration and knowledge-sharing; examine challenges unique for Caribbean social and business entrepreneurs and strategies for overcoming them;  explore opportunities for business growth and market expansion around and outside of the Caribbean region; and celebrate Caribbean culture.

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