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By Orville Williams

At least ten young entrepreneurs will be recognised this Saturday, during the Junior Chamber International’s (JCI) Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) Awards.

The program – which seeks to mold model professionals – has become a staple within the young professional community, never mind that the annual awards will move a bit away from tradition this year.

The awards are usually spread across several sectors, showcasing the achievements of youth in various areas. However, this year’s staging will be different to those of previous years.

Speaking to Observer this week, Co-chair of the YEP 2020 Derrica Watson, explained just what the changes will be.

“Normally, we would recognise youth within the ages of 18-40 in different categories such as sports, drama, art, design and [so on]. However due to Covid, we had to shift; so now we’ll be focusing on recognising at least 10 new young entrepreneurs, who started their businesses in 2020 on account of Covid.

“We will also be recognising at least five of the past awardees; to catch up with them to see how the recognition from [the program] has impacted their lives, both before and now.”

With many success stories emerging over the course of the past couple months, the question could be asked, why focus on entrepreneurs? As Watson further explained, the resilience shown by young people in business throughout the pandemic, simply meant there was no more important group to highlight.

“The [program’s] name speaks for itself. We are trying to recognise youth, persons who are doing incredible things with their talents, persons who are making something of themselves in this time. So, it’s not to say we cannot look at [other areas], but the name itself speaks about young people who are extraordinary.

“So, this is the reason we decided to zero in on the entrepreneurs, because – guess what – Covid came, it gave us a blow and yet still, we decided that we’re going to go out and make something of ourselves as young people,” she explained.

The diversity that is usually considered for the awards will, however, be maintained to some extent. She said they made a concerted effort to include as many areas of business that they could.

“We tried to zero in on different categories, so we have persons in the business of ice-cream [making], we have persons making butter, persons designing, some doing farming, people doing errand runs, people doing party decorations, so it’s a wide category. We just tried to make sure we at least recognised different business areas.” The Youth Empowerment Program Awards are set for this Saturday, November 21 at the Prime Minister’s Office on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. It will be live streamed on Zoom, as well as broadcast through Facebook Live.

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