As corporate sponsor of the Caribbean Association of Youth Business Programmes and the Saint Lucia Youth Business Trust, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank was the obvious choice as a resource representing the financial sector during the recently concluded two day Caribbean Youth Empowerment Program (CYP) conference here. Hosted under the theme “Investing in the Future: Empowering Young People,” issues surrounding youth employment, entrepreneurship, education and skills training were dominant among the topics examined by the 100 delegates attending the meeting.
CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank’s Country Manager, Mauricia Thomas-Francis, welcomed the opportunity to serve the conference as an industry resource representing a financial institution with demonstrated interest in promoting and facilitating youth enterprise. She formed part of a panel leading a discussion on challenges and opportunities in advancing youth entrepreneurship and job creation in the region.
The panel, which also comprised experts from Barbados and Grenada, examined obstacles impeding youth entrepreneurship and how programs and policies can serve the needs of youth starting and growing microenterprises.
“We shared from our knowledge and experience relative to the culture of entrepreneurship in the region, the services necessary for youth to launch their own ventures, and the key role the private sector plays in supporting entrepreneurship training and investing in business starts ups for young people,” Francis reported.
CIBC FirstCaribbean’s participation, Francis said, should be understood in the context of the role CIBC FirstCaribbean has played, as an active partner in the development of ideas and sound initiatives to catalyse economic growth within the Caribbean region.
“Our brand has always been about partnership and our attitude is deliberately proactive, leading in action, in innovation, in dialogue, in investment. This has been demonstrated in our government relations across the Caribbean, our customer relations and the relationships we continue to nurture with organisations and agencies, which like us, assume a leadership role in fostering change,” Francis said, noting that the CYP
conference in Saint Lucia was coming on the heels of another significant undertaking pioneered by CIBC FirstCaribbean International at the regional level. The “Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure Development & Financing”, planned and coordinated by CIBC FirstCaribbean took place in Nassau, The Bahamas a week prior from 20th – 21st June, 2013.
Francis said the Bank’s support of youth enterprise is a tangible manifestation of its leadership role in investment for development. In that regard, through its corporate sponsorship of the Caribbean Association of Youth Business Programmes and Junior Achievement, the Bank is already making a significant regional impact across the 10 Caribbean countries where the Youth Business Trust operates.
The aim of the CYP conference was to perpetuate on-going dialogue on the challenges and opportunities facing the region’s youth as they seek to find employment and become empowered participants in the economic life of their societies. Attending were delegates from governments, major regional and international NGOs and funding agencies like USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Youth Foundation (IYF).
Caribbean territories represented Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barduda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Francis described “the passion and the conviction of attending agency representatives and youth delegates as commendable. It speaks well to the issue of sound and informed representation of the issues impacting both youth and business in these challenging economic times.”