The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSLU) yesterday signed a USD7.6 million agreement to finance the Saint Lucia Youth Economy Project through which more than 3000 young people will benefit from business training or financing to start small enterprises.
The loan, which was approved in June, will help to boost the participation and engagement of youth between 15 and 35 years of age in socially inclusive and gender-responsive businesses. Six hundred young people will be trained in business development, planning, marketing, and business management while an additional 120 youths will receive business mentoring, coaching, and financing. More than 3,000 youngsters between the ages of 18 and 25 will be supported in enterprise activities in agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, retail, and the services industries as well as the blue, green, and orange economies.
CDB Vice President of Operations, Isaac Solomon noted the pivotal moment the signing represented, saying the agreement marked the sealing of cooperation between the Bank and the GOSLU to increase the participation and engagement of the youth population of Saint Lucia in the country’s economy.
“A project of this nature is a pioneering and timely intervention, carefully designed to drive youth economic empowerment, support the continuation of investment and capacity development in youth-led enterprises within the micro small, and medium enterprise sector to reduce youth unemployment and increase social resilience,” said Mr. Solomon.
“I am also pleased to say that socially inclusive and gender equality opportunities and approaches are at the centre of the project. This will ensure that all services, investments, and operations address the diverse needs of men, women, and vulnerable groups irrespective of their sex, disabilities, or geographical residence,” Mr. Solomon added.
Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Philip J. Pierre, noted that young people are the primary agents of change and key to building not only Saint Lucia but the wider Caribbean region.
“We already know that our youth possess unmatched levels of innovation and creativity. This initiative will provide them with the resources, training, and mentorship they need to explore that creativity but also to engage in business activities that will ultimately help to reduce youth unemployment and build sustainable livelihoods,” Prime Minister Pierre said.
The CDB has strengthened its partnership with Saint Lucia significantly since January 2023, with initiatives and agreements valued at more than USD34 million in loan and grant funding including co-financing commitments from the Government. The Bank’s 53rd Board of Governor’s Meeting was also held in Castries in June.