Black Immigrant Daily News
L-R: Shondell Rodrigues, Akeem McDonald, Onicak Hinds, Pearlita Richardson
The U.S. Embassy has announced the 2023 cohort from Guyana for the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program.
Launched in 2015, YLAI empowers emerging entrepreneurs from the Western Hemisphere to enable the full economic potential of the region’s citizens.
This year’s YLAI fellowship program launched in December 2022 and will continue through June 2023, bringing together 280 young leaders from 37 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.
“We are pleased to announce that four young leaders from Guyana have been accepted out of over 1,800 applicants,” the US Embassy said.
The first person is Akeem McDonald who works in the Business Services sector leading the Professional Janitorial Services. During the host placement, Akeem hopes to build new relationships, network with people that share common interests, and learn about the operations of different systems and sectors, marketing, e-commerce, product development, admin, and management. Coming into the YLAI Fellowship, his top business challenge is finance.
The other person is Onicak Hinds who works in the Education sector at Step-by-Step Foundation, leading as a senior tutor to provide intervention services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). During the host placement, Onicak hopes to learn how to further establish and expand Step by Step Foundation as well as increase the business’ impact in society. Coming into the YLAI Fellowship, her top business challenge is finance.
The third person is Pearlita Richardson who is an experienced creative designer who works in the Artisan Products sector, leading La Vie Guyana and carving a niche for ready-made clothing in the Guyanese fashion industry. During the host placement, Pearlita hopes to learn how to employ the right principles in the company and brand, hire the right people, and create the right products and environment to have a lasting positive impact on the lives of women, whether they are employees, customers, or beneficiaries of the community. Coming into the YLAI Fellowship, her top business challenge is finance.
And lastly, there is Shondell Rodrigues who works in the Agriculture and Animal Care sector, leading Alana’s Fresh Organic Produce. Shondell is a kitchen garden and small-scale vegetable farmer with six years of experience. During the host placement, Shondell hopes to learn about strengthening business and leadership from successful entrepreneurs to improve business ideas and contribute to her community’s economic development. Coming into the YLAI Fellowship, Shondell’s top business challenge is marketing and sales.
The 2023 YLAI Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, launched in December with a virtual Fellowship Leadership Curriculum and orientation. In May, fellows will split into cohorts and travel to 19 cities across the United States for four-week professional placements with U.S. businesses. They will collaborate with their peers to address shared business challenges, as well as engage in virtual and in-person events and cross-cultural activities.
Since 2015, more than 1,240 YLAI Fellows have built connections with 900+ U.S. fellowship placement organizations; 84 percent of these Fellows attracted new resources within one year of completing the program.