Young entrepreneurs across Trinidad and Tobago have a valid reason to celebrate following the launch of the BPTT-YTEPP Entrepreneurial Development Training Programme at the Samaan Tree Room, Kapok Hotel, Port of Spain, on Monday, March 18. This initiative represents further collaborative efforts between energy company BP Trinidad and Tobago and technical/vocational training organisation, the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme, which is aimed at developing human capital with special focus on young adults. Setting the tone for the event was Dr. Lovell Francis, Minister in the Ministry of Education, who delivered the feature address, “In the past, the education system was skewed in that success was often defined by qualifying as a doctor or lawyer. The world of today and tomorrow, however, depends on education defined by national development requirements. We need to prioritise skills training and entrepreneurship like BPTT and YTEPP are doing here today. As the first batch of trainees, you have been given a great opportunity and I urge you to make the most of it.” “From your ideas and hard work, economic diversification can become a reality toward building a sustainable future. I foresee a realised nation built through a realised education system. I am very invested in terms of seeing what each of you, supported by YTEPP and BPTT, can accomplish. I wish you the best and I expect the best from you also,” Minister Francis said. Following the start by this Port of Spain cohort of 15 participants, the five-day programme will be duplicated in Arima, San Fernando, Chaguanas and Tobago, spreading the benefits across the nation. As an added incentive, participants will also be encouraged to develop a business plan from which the top two participants from each location will be given a seed grant of $20,000 by BPTT to develop their ideas into actual businesses. Jolie Francis, Corporate Social Responsible team member, BPTT, explained: “Education and enterprise development are two key focus areas for BPTT, and so, this continuing partnership with YTEPP is ideal. This programme is focused on micro-entrepreneurship which is critical in community development worldwide. It provides pathways for growth for the entrepreneur and generates employment, bringing widespread benefit. We are adding the micro-finance aspect because of its proven success in our home community of Mayaro. We are sure that this course will inspire these young people to create successful businesses, and with that, we look forward to seeing them invest in inspiring others.” Beyond the entrepreneurship training, YTEPP will also provide guidance to the participants in developing their business plans. These plans will be evaluated by a panel consisting of representatives from BPTT and YTEPP, as well as independent experts and the top prospects will be awarded the grants. Congratulating the participants was national award recipient and Chairperson of YTEPP, Thora Best: “This partnership is yet another demonstration of the confidence that BPTT has in us to deliver the training that our nation requires. This is a vehicle for you, the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, to contribute to nation building while improving your own quality of life. You have a role to play in helping Trinidad and Tobago to realise our sustainable development goals. All I want to say to you is that you must remember at every step that to whom much is given, much is expected.” Also present at the ceremony and offering their support were YTEPP representatives, including Donna Scoon-Moses, Chief Executive Officer; Jesse Moss, Deputy Chairperson; Christo Cave, Director, Entrepreneurial Development and Support Services; and Kervelle Durant-Julien, Coordinator, who also filled the role of Master of Ceremonies. This initiative underscores the on-going partnership between BPTT and YTEPP which includes the hosting of YTEPP training expos at venues across the country including the BPTT Mayaro Resource Centre in Mayaro, entrepreneurial training and the recent mobile cosmetology training bus. With no time to lose, the actual course, facilitated by experienced trainer, Verdell Jeffrey, began immediately after the launch. It will delve into the dynamics of entrepreneurship including key concepts, technical training, honing critical skills and competencies and learning to capitalise on opportunities. None of the participants was as excited as Jemimah Andrews, who previously studied cosmetology and nail technology at YTEPP. “When I applied for this programme, I saw it as the chance to make all my dreams, hopes and business plans become a reality. I’m really grateful to YTEPP and BPTT because they are giving us the keys to unlock a better future. This course will give me the confidence and technical capacity to build my business from the ground up, and when I become a success I want to shine as a beacon for others to follow. My plan is to develop and market a line of tailor-made make-up, clothing, jewellery, shoes and accessories for plus-sized women so that they can each express their uniqueness. One day, it will be me giving grants to help the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Andrews effused.