Today, President Obama launched the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) to expand opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society activists. Building on the success of the President’s young leader initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, YLAI will incubate and accelerate the work of young business and civil society leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. YLAI will provide 250 fellowships each year to enable participants from the United States and the region to develop joint business and civil society initiatives. The preponderance of the fellowships will take place at universities, incubators, and non-governmental organizations across the United States, while follow-on exchanges will send Americans to Latin America and the Caribbean to continue the collaboration. YLAI fellows will receive ongoing support through a continuum of networking, mentorship, and investment opportunities.
Fifty-eight percent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean is under 35. Despite important economic gains over the last decade, significant challenges – including limited access to jobs, capital, and advanced educational opportunities, and the availability of illicit employment opportunities – hold many youth back from reaching their full potential. YLAI will help address the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with the training, tools, networks, and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, hu