From Ideas to Action: Creating Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Young People
Raynard Christopher Burnside, like many youth in the Caribbean, went to University with the idea that a degree would ensure him a spot in the job market, and like many young people in the Caribbean today, this did not happen.
“I studied at the University of the West Indies in agriculture. I did a bachelors [degree] and a masters [degree], and I returned home and realized I was unemployed”, recalled Burnside.
This is a fate that is all too common among youth of the Caribbean. With a regional unemployment rate of roughly 16% more and more youth are becoming discouraged by the lack of opportunities available to them, specifically when it comes to entrepreneurship.
- Over the past 7 years, the CIC has benefited over 20,000 young people, and supported the development of roughly 7,000 business proposals.
Kimberly Gay, finalist of the TIC competition says, “We [in the Caribbean] are not traditionally disposed to thinking about entrepreneurship – we are taught to go to school, get a good education, and get a good job. We are not taught to be business people and mange or own enterprises”.
The Caribbean Innovation Challenge (CIC) is an international competition and business start-up accelerator program for young entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. The CIC is organized and developed by UNDP Barbados and the OECS, and the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) as part of the UNDP project Youth Innovation (Youth-IN): A Caribbean Network for Youth Development.
The CIC differentiates itself from other existing business model competitions by incorporating "before and after" stages, focusing on training and mentoring as preparation for the competition, and providing follow up services that include access to finance, networking activities, internships and promotion opportunities – which are key support services for first-time young entrepreneurs.
The Caribbean Innovation Challenge offers mentors to the team in order to help that team develop their business plans, strategies and marketing. Once a team has registered as a contestant, they have available to them the Business Opportunity Online Training (BOOT) Camp / Environmental Resource Center The objective of the BOOT Camp/Water Resource Center is to provide Teams with tools that will aid them in developing their:
- Project Plan
- Prototype validation.
- Promotional slideshow or collage of at least three pictures that demonstrate innovation.
- Facebook Group Page or blog that keeps the audience updated on the Team's progress.
This project allows participants to show their products, and ideas, and exchange knowledge and experiences with many of the other young entrepreneurs from the Americas. They also get to meet large corporations that offer advice. Often times, young people have wonderfully creative ideas for technology, innovation and business. However, there are not many outlets in the region that can offer networking, sound advice and knowledge sharing. This is what UNDP’s CIC has supported for the youth of the Caribbean and wider region.
“UNDP and YABT’s CIC program will support you through a dynamic and effective approach to accomplish our goals. This program is an opportunity to help you develop your idea into a reality”, says 2009’s winner, Renotha Penny from Grenada.
Kimberly Gay from Trinidad and Tobago says, “The programme was phenomenal. It exposed me to online resources, mentoring me through the process of preparing my business plan, networking, visibility. It allows us to get the necessary confidence and exposure”.
Raynard Christopher Burnside, 2012 winner says, “If it wasn’t for this program that sponsored me to learn many things through the BOOT camp, learning resources, tutorial sessions, even the resources were helpful in regards to developing a business plan. Even if you don’t win, you learn so much”.
With the partnership between UNDP and the Young Americas Business Trust supports young entrepreneurs, entrance to the field of entrepreneurship, people who do not have a university degree, but have the talent and vision to become solid entrepreneurs.