Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde (third from left) posing with the winning group Refresh Beverages at the recent graduation ceremony for the Business Labs Presentations 2018. (P.Harper-Grant/BGIS)

Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, Adrian Forde, believes that innovation and entrepreneurship are powerful tools which can birth wealth and create opportunities for a wide cross section of Barbadians, especially vulnerable youth.

He made this disclosure at the recent graduation ceremony for the “Business Labs Presentations 2018”.  Business Labs is an intensive three-week training programme put on by the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES), which aims to familiarise young people with the rudiments of entrepreneurship.

Minister Forde pledged that the Ministry of Youth would continue to promote novel ideas and entrepreneurial endeavours from ‘the block to the boardroom’ that create new market niches, develop industries and contribute to product, service and process re-engineering.

The Youth Minister surmised: “The next generation of Barbadians will largely be self-employed, and should one look around the Barbadian economic landscape, it is already happening, as entrepreneurs, particularly young entrepreneurs, are organising and operating income generating activities and are taking the necessary financial and other risks to do it.”

Noting the potential for entrepreneurship to drive economic growth, Mr. Forde said his Ministry would provide the developmental framework, necessary resources and critical support to nurture entrepreneurs and foster a culture of entrepreneurial thinking.

“I am aware that no business, no matter how well-thought out will survive without being well funded, to achieve continuous profits. The Ministry of Youth will work with other ministries and agencies to offer adequate start-up and expansion financing to fuel the innovations of a vibrant entrepreneurial class,” Minister Forde said.

Stating that Government could not do it alone, Minister Forde urged persons to invest in youth-led enterprises in an effort to expand their economic playing field by doing business with them so they could grow, mature and become sustainable.

He also commended staff of YES, stating that practical and results-oriented initiatives, such as the Business Labs, “have assisted budding entrepreneurs to hone their talents, develop business acumen and strengthen their management and leadership skills to create innovative ventures that contribute to national development efforts”.

Mr. Forde affirmed the commitment of the Ministry of Youth to enabling YES to create the appropriate entrepreneurial development system to achieve its mission to increase the number of new millennials who develop and grow businesses that reflect the ‘Barbadian Brand’, create jobs, change lives and ensure future economic prosperity.

During the graduation ceremony, three teams presented their respective entrepreneurial ventures, which was the impetus behind the Business Labs programme.  The group who conceptualised ‘Refresh Beverages’ won the prize for the most financially viable project.

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