Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, presenting Manager of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, Selma Green, with a long service award. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Young entrepreneurs have been urged to create novel products and find new ways of getting into the market.

Minister of Youth, Stephen Lashley, offered these suggestions last Saturday, while delivering the feature address at the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme’s (YES) Graduation and Awards Ceremony at Mahogany Ridge, Plum Tree Hill, St. James.

Mr. Lashley told the 140 graduates who successfully completed the eight-month Entrepreneurial Development Training Programme: "Do things differently and make it happen! I don’t know if you have noticed, but too many new businesses are doing practically the same things and many entrepreneurs are people who are merely employing themselves. We are not thinking outside the box. They merely shift what exists to a different person. Too few focus on creativity, innovation or wealth generation.

"So, my advice to you is to … think, plan, take action and evolve. Make a conscious effort to discover the creations or innovations that have the highest perceived values that you as an entrepreneur can capitalise on to build wealth. As you do this, you will also be creating prosperity beyond yourselves to include your families, your communities and your country."

Mr. Lashley disclosed that entrepreneurship and the specific strategies that would be deployed to provide practical assistance to young entrepreneurs, including the provision of finance, would be discussed in the draft National Youth Policy, which will soon be the subject of public dialogue.

He proffered the view that new technologies and a growing capacity for innovation were key factors in the quest for lasting solutions to the current economic challenges. According to him, entrepreneurs would kick-start the next economic revolutions and entrepreneurship would become a self-renewing resource that fuels our economic growth.

The Minister told the graduates to plan strategically to create businesses that could rival their counterparts in any part of the world. "This current generation of entrepreneurs cannot simply focus on the domestic and regional markets, but must seize the cutting edge technologies to become leaders in distant markets as well," he stated.

He urged them to look for emerging opportunities in the creative arts, annual Crop Over Festival and even the tourism industry.

Mr. Lashley promised that his Ministry would take the lead in making entrepreneurship work for the young business people. "We will make things happen by making it easier and indeed more attractive for businesses to start up and function effectively in Barbados," he pledged.

Owner of Blessed to Be a Blessing Inc., Joel Osford, received the Ixora and Manager’s Awards; while Barry Banfield of Surf Barbados Inc. was given the Most Innovative and Flamboyant Awards; and Ryan Clarke of Comprehensive Security Solutions Inc. obtained the Cordia Award. Heather Barker of Heather Scent also received an award for Most Innovative Active Business.

Since YES’ inception, more than 4,000 young people have received assistance from the organisation, hundreds have completed its training programme and many new enterprises have been created.

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