Youth in Guyana face multiple barriers that stand in the way of attaining economic opportunities. The lack of soft-skills development opportunities, formal education opportunities, and unstable family environments make it difficult for Guyanese youth to secure employment. Further compounding this issue is a lack of access to capital, geographic constraints, and a lack of entrepreneurial skills that make it difficult for young people to start businesses.
Making Cents International developed and implemented a three-month entrepreneurial skills training program for at-risk youth in Guyana under the YouthBiz 592 program. The entrepreneurship training, an element of a range of capacity-building and wraparound services offered under the broader YouthBiz program, aimed to strengthen the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for youth participants to successfully start micro-enterprises. The training was designed to contribute to the program goals of positioning youth to be economically self-sustainable, be meaningfully employed, and serve in positive leadership roles in their own communities – while discouraging risky behaviors that may lead to crime and violence.
During the training, youth participants built key business skills such as market assessment and analysis, marketing and customer service, operations and management, production and quality control, financial management, and soft skills (including communication, creativity, goal orientation, problem-solving, and teamwork). The training included a “One-Day Business Challenge” and culminated in a business plan competition and disbursement of individual business grants by the Guyanese Small Business Bureau (SBB).
To enhance the capacity of local organizations and government stakeholders to sustain a youth entrepreneurship and lending program such as YouthBiz, Making Cents provided ongoing technical assistance to the SBB during the YouthBiz pilot phase. Specifically, we conducted a training of trainers workshop, organizational self-assessment process, rapid market research on youth services, and other capacity-building workshops related to youth engagement and entrepreneurship capacity building.