“My primary role is is to support the 53-member governments of the Commonwealth, to empower their young people socially, politically and economically to effect change” said Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, London. Ellis is Australian born, and has served some twelve (12) years in the private sector in the Asian-Pacific region, and another eight (8) years in the NGO youth sector. “I was able to transfer the experiences gained within the private sector to the NGO sector, and thereafter, into the inter-governmental space  to successfully initiate change in and through youth development which is an important part of the mandate of  the Commonwealth Secretariat” said Ellis.

Ellis strongly believes that young persons should be exposed to environments that allow for positive experiences particularly as they relate to their entrepreneurial pursuits. “As a young person, I was privileged to grow up in a stable family environment, where there was a prevalence of integrity, honesty and trust and people looked after each other. I always encourage young people, especially young entrepreneurs, to develop their own personal values to underpin successful action.”

Ellis visited Trinidad and Tobago recently as part of the Commonwealth team to facilitate the establishment of the  Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs – Caribbean and Canada (CAYE-C&C) which was developed primarily to link entrepreneurs, to drive support for entrepreneurship, and build trading opportunities.“This alliance, which originated from the Asian Region, is aimed at providing connectivity support across the Caribbean Region and Canada, for young entrepreneurs.They can share experiences, and raise a united voice to call for a better system to support emerging businesses” she said. Though CAYE –C&C will be supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat, it promises to be self-driven with each member country embarking on appropriate initiatives aimed at propelling the growth of youth entrepreneurship. It should be noted, that Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT), is the representative organization in CAYE-C&C  responsible for providing support for young entrepreneurs in Trinidad and Tobago.

There has been a strong commitment by member countries which include Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, to ensure that CAYE-C&C  represents a unified voice for the further development of youth entrepreneurship regionally and internationally.

For further information on CAYE-C&C, please visit their website at


By: Sandrine Rattan

Project Co-ordinator – Stakeholder & Media Relations (YBTT)


Published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Entrepreneurial Profile – FRANCISCA BROWN-MATA

Francisca Brown-Mata (new press photo)It has been proven over time, that entrepreneurship can sometimes permeate positively throughout the rungs of families. Testifying to this is Francisca Brown-Mata, another of YBTT’s success stories. “I grew up watching my Mom preparing meals for the neighbours, who would in turn display smiling faces as a result of the enjoyment they received from the delicious meals, and that brought a joy to her heart.”  This was the beginning of Brown-Mata’s entrepreneurial dream! It is also a known fact that domestic circumstances produce some of our best entrepreneurs. As Brown-Mata puts it “I sold delicacies as a child in order to generate additional income to attend school, as I faced challenges whilst growing up.”

Today, Brown-Mata stands proudly as an established caterer! Trading as “Francisca’s Delights”, Brown-Mata’s motto “a tasty delight in every bite” transcends into every aspect of her business, as she believes that “there must always be a correlation between the look and taste of food.” In addition to acquiring cooking skills from her mother, Brown-Mata pursued courses at Cruise Inn and the Ministry of Community Development, which have both  contributed to her proficiency in the preparation of  Indian, Creole, Chinese and Italian dishes. Determined to do the best in her field,  she also pursued a course  in “Cake Decorating’ specializing in flowers.

Brown-Mata described her YBTT experience as extremely helpful! “YBTT has contributed towards my success – they provided me with training, funding and mentorship; the organization also gave me the drive and motivation needed for my continued success, and for all of this I am eternally grateful.” There is a common thread in the service provided to her clients which is a combination of a unique experience of taste, quality and quantity which they look forward to on every occasion! Brown- Mata’s most common mode of operation is through orders for cakes, sweetbread and pastries. She also credits much of her success to her husband who she describes as her tower of strength and inspiration!

Brown-Mata’s advice to young persons seeking to achieve “life may be a struggle, but at the end of the day, always try to turn the negatives into positives, and you would be on the road to success; in terms of the obstacles, either go around them or push them aside.”


By: Sandrine Rattan

Project Co-ordinator – Stakeholder & Media Relations (YBTT)


Published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Entrepreneurial Profile – Nikita Legall

Nikita's Photo

Many young persons were born with high levels of creativity and dexterity, and therein lies their entrepreneurial  potential.  Nikita Legall, one of YBTT’s success stories, is one such individual who began her entrepreneurial pursuit from as early as 10 years. “I would ask my Mom to purchase boxes of pencils which I took to school for re-sale to students. I generated income of $30.00 daily” said Legall. The holder of  a BSc. in Chemical and Process Engineering and a Post-Graduate Dip. in Environmental Engineering, it is quite obvious to many, that Legall would have been employed in a large organization as an Engineer, but she begs to differ! She likens the discipline of Engineering to that of Entrepreneurship which is based primarily on problem-solving.

Her experience with YBTT has led to the establishment of a very unique business. According to Legall “In September 2014, I approached YBTT with two (2) business ideas – ‘Honey Production’ and ‘Introduction of a Mobile App.’ They advised me to pursue the Honey Production because of its uniqueness, provided me with the required resources i.e. funding, training and mentorship, and the rest is history”! She continued “the training programme offered by YBTT is excellent, especially the Life Skills’ component which assisted me with my personal development. Their After-Care support is exceptional.” Interestingly, Legall’s Mentor, Rachel Renie, the Managing Director of Market Movers Limited is also one of YBTT’s success stories. Legall is extremely grateful for Renie’s Mentorship coaching which she has described as “the right fit for my business.” Legall owns an Apiary and expects her first batch of honey within the next six (6) weeks.

Legall recognizes that given the type of business, she would not be able to satisfy the full demand, hence she has developed a network with other beekeepers who provide the required support in this area. Legall’s vision for the business is huge “I intend to establish my own brand, as well as expand the business with the introduction of other bee-related products within the next 3 to 5 years.”

Legall’s advice to young persons who may be thinking entrepreneurial “an idea does not create a person; you have to be willing to take advice from other entrepreneurs who have already walked that path, attend as much training programmes as you can, grow as much as you can, and success will be yours.”


By: Sandrine Rattan

Project Co-ordinator – Stakeholder & Media Relations (YBTT)


Published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Thursday, July 9th, 2015





As a young adult, how you feel about money affects how you live your life and manage your finances. It is critical to have the right attitude towards money and adopt the success habits to achieve financial freedom. To help you manage money effectively and plan ahead for a successful future, Jennifer Gibbons –Joseph certified Life Empowerment & Financial coach of Conec Professional Coaching Services, recommends these simple and practical steps:



Check your feelings about money. Are you happy when you receive money or are you always dissatisfied – wanting more?

What’s the first thing you do when you receive money? Do you go out and buy whatever you want or only what you need? Do you work with a budget or check list?

Yes, what you do with your money, may be a repeat of the way your parents or other adults in your household handled money. Sayings such things as “Money is made to spend” or “Enjoy your money while it lasts” also has a negative effect on how you treat with money.



Many people get into financial difficulties because of lack of discipline, lifestyle habits and a negative approach to budgeting and savings. Do you know how much money you spend weekly or monthly on your lifestyle habits or hobbies? How often do you go shopping? What about the cost of hanging out with your friends?


Whether you have a little bit of money or plenty money, budgeting is important. It is a commitment to you. A budget is really an itemized list of your financial commitments and the things you want to buy with the dollar amount for each item listed. A budget would help you to keep on track with your expenses, and allows for savings towards your future goals.

When making a budget you should be careful with what your needs are, your commitments and your wants. Know the cost of grocery items, utilities, car instalments and maintenance.


Saving is setting aside money for a short-term goal. An investment is putting aside money for a longer period for returns. Savings & investments would help you achieve your financial and life goals. Most young people as soon as they begin working want to buy a car, the latest in electronic equipment or travel.  To achieve any of these goals, you must exercise disciple, delay gratification and include your targeted amount in your budget.



Most of the goals you want to achieve require you to have money.  You must first list your goals, the time frame in which you want to achieve them and the money required for each. You have to be realistic in setting money goals.

  1. Your first step is to have details on what you want.
  2. Check whether it is a need or a want.
  3. When do you want to achieve this goal?
  4. How much money does it cost?
  5. How are you going to get this money?
  6. How much do you have to save?
  7. What instruments are you going to use?
  8. What other steps do you need to take?
  9. What are the things that can affect your plans?
  10. What is your reward?



Check Conec’s website for more info on program and like their face book page for updates

Nominations open for Commonwealth Youth Awards

Nominations open for Commonwealth Youth Awards

Do you know a young person making a positive difference in your community or country?

Nominations are now open for the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, which recognise outstanding young people who have had a significant impact on their communities and wider society.

Young people aged 15 to 29 years can apply for the awards, which celebrate the achievements of those who lead initiatives to enhance democracy and development, from poverty alleviation to climate change, to peace building.

The awards are open to young people from countries across the Commonwealth. In addition to four regional award winners, one exceptional entrant will be recognised as Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016 for Excellence in Development Work.

Ms Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “These awards recognise pioneering individuals who are creating change for the better in their communities. The inspirational young social entrepreneurs, human rights defenders, climate change activists, peace-builders, and many more, all join the ranks of the Commonwealth’s bright young leaders.”

A total of 16 finalists will be shortlisted from four Commonwealth regional categories: Africa and Europe, Asia, Americas and Caribbean, and Pacific. A winner will be selected from each region, and invited to London, United Kingdom, in early 2016 for a formal awards presentation.

Last year’s overall winner, Julius Shirima from Tanzania, who founded a microventure capital fund and entrepreneur network, said: “The Commonwealth Youth Awards have helped us to scale our work and reach more young entrepreneurs. We used the monetary award to invest in our income-generating projects and, as a result, we have invested in more young entrepreneurs’ businesses. We have also advised youths from other countries on how they can start similar projects – this is all because of the exposure the Commonwealth Youth Award offers.”

Nominees must have been engaged in development work for more than 12 months either in a professional or voluntary capacity. Entries must be received through an online entry form before 31 August 2015. Entrants can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone who is not a relative and can testify to their work.

The finalists will receive cash grants of GBP£1,000 to continue their development work, and will each be awarded a trophy and certificate. Each regional winner will receive a cash grant of GBP£3,000, while the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year will receive GBP£5,000 to support an ongoing project or initiative.

Awards and shortlisting will be decided on the basis of the impact of the individual’s work, the level of innovation and problem-solving, and the quality of achievements, the sustainability of the work, and supporting evidence provided. The award winners will be announced in early March 2016.

Development work can be within any number of areas including agriculture, environment protection, entrepreneurship, skills training, arts and culture, education, health and well-being, human rights, information and communications technology, journalism, sports and science.

For more information about the Commonwealth Youth Awards, and to apply or nominate someone, please visit:

Caribbean alliance eyes new era for youth entrepreneurship

Press Release

Caribbean alliance eyes new era for youth entrepreneurship


02 July 2015 – Young people hoping to transform their business ideas into successful enterprises are set to benefit from the creation of a new Commonwealth alliance to promote youth entrepreneurship across the Caribbean and Americas.

The Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Caribbean & Canada (CAYE-C&C), a coalition of 13 organisations from nine Commonwealth countries, was officially launched in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, this week.

The alliance will advocate for greater support to encourage young people to go into business, provide practical guidance for promising youth-led start-up companies, and connect young entrepreneurs to promote trade within the region and beyond.

According to the agreement signed on 30 June 2015, the founding members aim to “contribute to regional sustainable development by helping to increase the numbers of young entrepreneurs who grow businesses, create jobs, change lives and ensure future economic prosperity.”

Selma Green of Barbados Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, elected as inaugural Chair following the launch event, said: “I look forward to leading a dynamic alliance of partners who are committed to creating a new generation of entrepreneurs, who will lead the charge to revolutionise our economies.” Green will serve alongside Erica Wynter of Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of Jamaica, who was elected Vice Chair.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Clifton De Coteau, applauded the initiative, noting that it will help countries to share practices and promote youth entrepreneurship. He highlighted that many young people are sole bread winners for their households, saying: “Our support of young entrepreneurs is not just about boosting their self-esteem and their career development, but also about ensuring they can provide a good quality of life for their families.”

A network of networks, the alliance will facilitate trade opportunities, training and technical support for young business leaders, and increase networking and mentorship opportunities. It will also unify the voices of young people to call for enhancements to existing entrepreneurship policies.

Welcoming the new alliance, Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “Young entrepreneurs are powerful drivers of economic renewal, job creation, innovation and social change. The Commonwealth Secretariat is committed to supporting and connecting young entrepreneurs so their voices are heard by decision makers at the highest levels.”

The decision to form the alliance – which is modelled on the Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE), set up in 2011 – was made in December 2014 at a forum in Barbados convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Mr Matt Sweeting, President of the Bahamas Organization of Young Professionals, said: “CAYE-C&C represents an unparalleled opportunity to create an enabling environment for young people to start and grow their own businesses, in an effort to combat unemployment, crime and poverty. An initiative like this can be a game-changer.”

The following organisations are founding members of the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Caribbean & Canada:

  • Anguilla Get SET Entrepreneurship Programme – Anguilla
  • Organization of Young Professionals – Bahamas
  • Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation – Barbados
  • Barbados Youth Business Trust – Barbados
  • Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme – Barbados
  • Youth For Epic Change – Barbados
  • Futurpreneur Canada – Canada
  • Dominica Youth Business Trust – Dominica
  • Jamaica Youth Business Trust – Jamaica
  • Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica – Jamaica
  • St Lucia Youth Business Trust – Saint Lucia
  • St Vincent & Grenadines Youth Business Trust – St Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Youth Business Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad and Tobago


Visit the CAYE-C&C website:

Follow CAYE-C&C on Twitter: @cayecnc


Youth Business Trinidad & Tobago (YBTT) Carving out his dream

From a qualified primary schoolteacher to the owner of a successful wood-working business, 35-year-old Satyan Sagramsingh is a perfect example of a true entrepreneur – an individual who pursues his passion and takes calculated risks.

Sagramsingh, another of Youth Business Trinidad & Tobago’s (YBTT) success stories, described the YBTT experience as rewarding and empowering.

“The main reason why I approached the organisation, is the after-care support and the mentorship programme offered which helped me tremendously,” he said. He holds an Associate Degree in Project Management and also pursued several courses in networking and computer repairs.

Sagramsingh’s entrepreneurial testimony is diverse. He remained in the teaching profession for seven years, then left to further his studies in information technology.

However, Sagramsingh always had a passion for the sawmill industry in which he worked for a short period. His thirst to continuously acquire new knowledge about the industry kept growing, hence his attendance at the annual trade show in July 2008 which was hosted by the International Woodworking Federation in Atlanta, USA.Upon his return from the trade show, Sagramsingh’s love for woodworking increased.

“I’d do the woodworking whilst looking for a job in the IT field. I purchased basic tools, and was able to build a clientele,” he said.

Today, SLS WoodWorking is an established business entity fully outfitted with sophisticated tools and equipment. Sagramsingh is also cognisant of the importance of using appropriate technology to provide the highest level of customer service for his clients.

His tool collection includes a computer numerical control tool for the purposes of 3D carving and a small moulder for wood moulding.

“In addition to the self-fulfilment and satisfaction that you receive from being an entrepreneur, you are also in control of your own destiny,” said Sagramsingh.

From the establishment of the business since 2010, his major support comes from his family and his significant other. As he puts it, “They have all contributed to the success of the business to date.”

He has a huge vision for the business which is also influenced by continuous research in the industry.

“I intend to become fully involved in mouldings and eventually establish my own sawmill,” he said.

Sagramsingh’s simple advice to potential young entrepreneurs: “You have to try and don’t be afraid to fail.”


By: Sandrine Rattan

Project Co-ordinator – Stakeholder & Media Relations (YBTT)


Published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on Thursday, July 2nd, 2015,213550.html