Stephen Lashley, Minister of Youth, addresses young people today on the benefits of entrepreneurship at?? the Youth Forum of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Government’s commitment to entrepreneurship has been reiterated by Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, who said the National Youth Policy of Barbados clearly charts the way forward in this area.

Mr. Lashley made the comments today as he addressed the Youth Forum of the Caribbean ICT Roadshow at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

He noted that the Policy, which was recently approved by the Cabinet, outlines, to some extent, how young people would be exposed to the culture of business enterprise.

He explained, for example, that by working closely with a number of key learning and financial institutions, the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme’s (YES) programme would be expanded to have greater potential in setting Barbados as the number one entrepreneurial hub by the year 2020.

"In addition, our Ministry [Family, Culture, Sports and Youth] will help to establish innovation centres to encourage and support a problem-solving approach to the challenges facing young people. Every year, targets will be set for the emergence of new entrepreneurs in the key strategy areas.

"Innovative methods of business organisation, investment, production and marketing will be used to help young people make the transition to self-employment. Success stories will be vigorously promoted in the mass media so as to inspire the rich legacy of entrepreneurial development among youth," he promised.

Mr. Lashley pointed out that in the context of innovation and entrepreneurship, his Ministry, through YES, was leading the way in the development of a cadre of innovative and highly creative young people. He explained that through the two age-appropriate Business Ventures training modules, and "a very practical package of technical assistance and services", persons from as young as 10 years and as old as 35, were provided with the requisite skills and knowledge to move their idea to enterprise.

But, he stressed, if young people were to harness the power of innovation through entrepreneurship, a number of key strategies would need to be implemented so their journey to success could be viable. He suggested that education and training programmes would be important components to any strategy to promote entrepreneurial activity.

"This could establish a valuable means of shaping a young entrepreneur’s competence and attitude to become self-employed. Where schools do not teach entrepreneurship as part of their curriculum as an option for self-employment, government agencies and the private sector can lobby for it to be incorporated into the curriculum. They can also help in initiating development of a business curricula and training materials, and invite young potential entrepreneurs to visit business establishments and share their experiences," he added.

The Minister said many Caribbean Governments, by their policies and programmes, had already embarked on activities designed to stimulate and encourage information communication technology (ICT) growth and development, and he expressed the view,that young, people needed to determine where they could contribute to lessening the technological divide. "They need to decide what innovations they can create or re-create to transform our societies or to aid development and to enhance our business sectors," he opined.

Organised by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, in collaboration with the Division of Energy and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Commerce and Trade, the Roadshow aims to highlight and celebrate regional innovators and innovations, as well as build consensus on collaborative approaches to achieving measurable national and regional progress through effective utilisation of ICTs.


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