Eighteen secondary school students who graduated from Empower Youth International’s Teen Agri-Entrepreneurship Programme were recently celebrated for their achievements at a Teen Innovators Award ceremony.
The purpose of the French Embassy-funded programme was to educate, train and empower the next generation of agri-entrepreneurs – teenpreneurs – to become agri-business owners who will make a positive difference in the community through their innovation, creativity and purposeful agri-enterprises.
Participants received training from professionals and entrepreneurs in areas such as marketing, agri-entrepreneurship, finance, business planning and much more. In just one week, they created an agri-business and presented it before a panel of judges. Many of the judges were inspired by their level of professionalism and creativity.
According to Finance Director of Empower Youth International Troy Hamblin, “Their agri-businesses were impressive and many of them worked long hours with guidance from their mentors to present businesses worthy of sustainability.”
Their ventures included an organic drink company, Coconut Glacial Delights; an organic hair oil company, Touch of Nature; and an agriculture t-shirt company, Agri T’s. Many of the young entrepreneurs were enthusiastic about continuing their businesses even after the end of the programme.
At the award ceremony, Coconut Glacial Delights received the first-place prize, Agri T’s took second and Touch of Nature was third.
Empower Youth International Managing Director Franz Harewood-Hamblin reiterated the need to focus on agribusiness in the training of youth.
She said: “The agricultural sector is one of the most crucial sectors for mankind and with an exponentially increasing population and scarcity of resources, it is under constant strain. Therefore, in light of our current global realities such as climate change, rising fossil fuel prices, ecosystem degradation and water and land scarcity — all of which are making today’s food production methods increasingly unsustainable — we challenged the youth in our programme to create sustainable agribusinesses that are eco-friendly, enhanced food security and made responsible use of natural resources in their environment.”
During the award ceremony, the Principal of the Barbados Community College (BCC) Annette Alleyne who was the guest speaker at the event commended the directors for their contribution to youth development over the years and lauded the work done by the young innovators enrolled in the programme.
She encouraged the participants to remember three things on their journey as entrepreneurs: “Keep it simple, don’t settle and get it done.”
Alleyne also advised them to keep their innovations simple so that others can understand what they produce, explaining that keeping it simple would also help them to remain focused on what is important.
She further urged the youth not to ever settle for mediocrity but to keep what they produce at a high standard and not “cut ”corners.
The BCC principal added: “There are days where you feel motivated and days which you will not but just start because your talent will show up and do accept constructive criticism because you can use it to propel the greatness that is inside of you!”
Empower Youth International’s mission is to empower at-risk youth, ages 12-19, to reach their full potential through education, mentorship and innovative intervention programmes designed to enhance their total wellbeing.