Across the Caribbean, government and non-governmental organisations are helping youth enter the labour market. Entrepreneurship is often touted as an effective policy option.
Kenrick Quashie, an entrepreneurial guru in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has been working on youth entrepreneurship for the past 12 years. When I met him in 2014 he was setting up a non-profit organisation, called the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Youth Business Trust, to help young entrepreneurs access business planning, mentors, and capital.
Like similar organisations in the Caribbean, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Youth Business Trust found it challenging to access project funding. Further, in this small island developing state of 110,000 people, the economic market is fueled by a small tourism industry and a severely reduced agricultural industry based primarily on banana production.
Kendrick needed to find a way to compensate for the lack of capital investment from governments and financial institutions. He knew that he would have to take a unique approach to help young entrepreneurs finance their creative ideas. He turned to crowdfunding. His was the only youth business organisation in the region that used this innovative 21st century tool to help youth get their ideas to market. And he didn’t stop there.
He thinks that entrepreneurship training curricula across the region needs revamping. Recently, Kenrick launched a weekly start-up bulletin to fill information gaps and to connect entrepreneurs with potential investors. One of Kenrick’s new initiatives is D-Den, a virtual platform where developers can trade their services for an equity stake, cash and/or crypto-currency payments. Kenrick says that “this entrepreneurial platform promises to be a game changer.”
Kenrick is just one example of the creativity seen in the Caribbean to help youth achieve their entrepreneurial aspirations. While they are Caribbean born, their ideas are very much global.