BUSINESS FAIR: INCOME GENERATING PROJECTS OF YOUTHS IN SAN IGNACIO/SANTA ELENA

San Ignacio, Belize.- December 8, 2016 was a day of celebration for a group of 16 young persons from the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena.  It marked the culmination of two weeks of excitement and active participation in the RET International Entrepreneurship Training.

As part of the graduation proceedings, the youths planned a mini-business fair to present their Income Generating Ideas in creative and innovative ways.  RET International shared the plan of the youths with the Mayor of San Ignacio/Santa Elena, who was thrilled at the idea and came to participate in the program. Saint Ignatius High School Adult Education and Cayo Center for Employment Training also participated in the event along with local media.  Business ideas ranged from restaurants, Food Trucks, Game Spots and Day Care Centers to Tattoo Shops, Sporting Goods Store, Beauty Shop, Computer Services and Music School.  Presentations were made using PowerPoint presentations, display booths and samples.  RET International was very encouraged by the enthusiasm and passion demonstrated, and proud to see the growth of these youths; some of whom had to brave difficult social and family circumstances to be able to participate in the program.

The Entrepreneurship Training forms part of our intervention with youths in Belize City and the Cayo District to develop the skills and capacities necessary to become employed or self-employed.  The training began in November 2016 for a period of two weeks (14 sessions), where the participating young persons were engaged in the topics of business planning and development, understanding and exploring the characteristics of entrepreneurs, and developing a Life Plan and a Business Plan.  Life Skills topics such as, Self-esteem, decision-making, and problem solving were also included in the training cycle.  The young people expressed gratitude for the opportunity to explore and develop their life plans and business plans.  They felt that the training provided clarity on the business development process and tools and tips for developing successful Income Generating Activities.  RET continues to provide support to these youths in the development process; helping to strengthen their plans, ensuring they are aligned to and satisfying the criteria of lending agencies, as well as linking them with organizations such as Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), who can provide them with access to grant funding for development or expansion of micro-enterprises.

Since opening Office and beginning interventions in Belize, late 2015, RET International team has engaged approximately 300 youths, providing them with capacity building and increased knowledge in Life Skills, Income Generation, Community Development and Leadership.  Through key partnerships with the Youth Apprenticeship Program, High Schools and Vocational Institutions, we have strengthened institutional capacity, sharing tools and best practices for engaging and empowering young people for sustainability.  Our goal is to reduce the risk of youth engagement in criminal activities, by providing alternatives focused on building sustainable and resilient youths and by extension communities.

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