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Local entrepreneur to represent SKN in Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellowship Program

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – A videographer and photographer from St. Kitts and Nevis will be participating in the 2023 cohort of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program held in May and June.

The awardee, Cleon Bradshaw, will join 280 young business and social entrepreneurs from 37 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada and will engage in a six-week all-expense paid exchange program to sharpen his entrepreneurial skills and broaden his network.

“The goal of it is to be a leader, but it also helps you to strengthen your business, so I know as a creative; creatives aren’t the best business persons. We don’t know how to capitalise or turn that idea or creative thing into income. So the goal for me was to get better with operations. I applied as a small business [that’s] somewhat struggling with operations. I’d like to get that kind of ironed out. So I have a business mentor now; he owns a wedding company. He has over 100 staff. He does very eloquent weddings all over the world. I’m actually going to go to him to his company, meet him and shadow him for the next six weeks.”

Bradshaw and YLAI alumni Janeel Boone, a local computer technician, were both on the May 3 broadcast of WINN’s Island Tea.

Boone, other than being an alumnus of the fellowship program, is also a part of the team that decides on the program’s awardees.

“Since my exchange program in 2018, I have since become one of the board members, actually the only Caribbean person on the Alumni Advisory Board for the last two elections. I’ve since been a part of the selection committee for beyond St. Kitts; however, I’ve sat in the St. Kitts and Nevis selection with the embassy. I have since been in a few other courses. Pretty much as I said, I’m a US Embassy child since then.”

Twenty-five individuals from the Federation applied to the program, and Bradshaw emerged as the one selected to represent the Federation.

“I’m really looking forward to going. It’s an opportunity – I think, you know, as a small business owner, we sometimes don’t feel like we have the avenues to learn the true business side of things.”

According to the US State Department, fellows will split into smaller cohorts and travel to 19 cities across the United States for four-week professional placements with U.S. businesses to address shared business challenges, engage in virtual/in-person events and cross-cultural activities.  In June, a Closing Forum will be held in Washington, D.C., to close the program. 

Fellows are then expected to return to their home countries/territories with new skills, resources, ongoing support from U.S. counterparts, and a broader network, strengthening business ties between the U.S. and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.

The initiative was launched in 2015 to empower emerging business and social entrepreneurs from across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States, combining an annual fellowship, an active online network, and continuing activities organised by U.S. Embassies and Consulates.

Watch the full interview here to find out about the application process and some of the past recipients of the program: 

 

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