(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)
Remarks by Minister of National Mobilization, Social Development, Family Services, Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities and Youthin St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Hon. Frederick Stephenson during a CEBO Partnership Meeting with Representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat

Today we meet to discuss youth entrepreneurial development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with stakeholder partners locally and CARICOM Secretariat. The Creative Employment Business Opportunity (CEBO) program is a CARICOM Secretariat initiative that is funded by USAID, UNDP, the Governments of Spain and Japan and is spearheaded nationally by Governments in CARICOM Member States. The CEBO program targets vulnerable marginalized youth between ages 15 and 29, providing entrepreneurial skills training, which is expected to lead eventually to the support of national economies in CARICOM Member States.

As Minister with the responsibility for youth development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I am pleased that at a time like this, CARICOM and My Government are engaging the youth and stakeholder partners in a venture that would not only create avenues for development economically, but also through partnership with other stakeholders within St. Vincent and the Grenadines and CARICOM. I join with the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development in stating that “young people are assets, they are not a problem to be solved.”

The Ministry of National Mobilisation and Youth remains committed to enabling our youth to reach their fullest potential by providing services which are necessary for their development. The Youth Affairs Division currently runs the YES program which is geared toward providing hands on or on the job training experiences for youth. This program gained recognition as a best practice in Latin America and the Caribbean since it also created employment opportunities for our youth. This program has provided permanent employment for youth in the private and public sector since its inception and continues to be the training ground where young minds are moulded.

As we deliberate on this new initiative, it is my hope that our youth would grasp the opportunity with both hands, whilst our stakeholder partners lend their fullest support in encouraging this process. The social impact of a venture like this would not be immediately seen but it would have its long lasting effect on future development as the process keeps on improving and more youth become self sufficient; entrepreneurs. We would therefore be able to encourage:
 More skilled persons
 More small businesses and cottage industries
 More artist who are engaged in craft production and replicas
 IT service industry
 Fisher and farmer folks – youth who wish to improve on their family businesses

These are but few of the possibilities open to our youth. On the other hand, the financial institutions who are gathered here today, shows your interest in assisting our youth in taking the next step in their development. As an integral partner, my wish is for a facility to be developed to assist our youth in realising their dreams of owning and operating their own businesses. I am aware that some have already done so, but we are seeking further improvement and enhancement to the process that would be more enabling and inviting for our youth.

I welcome this venture and hereby in principle support the initiative that would benefit our youth and pledge my Ministry’s and Government’s commitment.

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