U.S. Embassy Announces Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program to Support Entrepreneurs throughout Latin America

Program signifies important step in White House’s Commitment to Fostering the Development of an Entrepreneurship Network in the Americas

Entrepreneurs! We are looking for you!

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Professional Fellows Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is looking for 250 young entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean to bring to the United States for business and social entrepreneurship training in October and November 2016. YLAI Professional Fellows will become part of the larger YLAI Network, an online space to obtain resources and make regional connections necessary to foster positive change in their local communities.

The U.S. program includes the following components:

  1. Opening Program in Texas and Closing Summit in Washington, D.C. featuring workshops, breakout sessions, and keynote speakers;
  2. Four-week individualized fellowship with counterpart companies or organizations in cities around the U.S.  The participants will engage in skills-building workshops, develop or refine their own strategic plan, and participate in day-to-day operations at U.S. organizations;
  3. Professional development activities including entrepreneurship training and interaction with experts; and
  4. Ongoing support before, during, and after the YLAI Fellowship through networking, mentorship, and investment opportunities.

The program is open to entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria:

  1. Are between the ages of 21 and 35;
  2. Are a resident of Panamá, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
  3. Are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa;
  4. Have at least 2 years of entrepreneurial/leadership experience, preferably with a startup business or social venture;
  5. Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English. 

How to Apply

The https://ylai.state.gov/ website includes information about how to apply for the YLAI fellowship and how to sign up for the YLAI Network.  Submit your application by Friday, May 20. 

The YLAI experience

Alejandro Carbonell was Panama’s representative in the Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), who was selected by the U.S. Department of State.

“Something I will never forget was the warmth of the people with whom I shared my stay in the United States, my host family. I was able to live for two weeks at the home of an American family and learn about their culture. It is an experience I will always remember because they treated me like part of their family and taught me a lot”, explains the founder of Tutorez, an online platform that allows students to find nearby private tutors.  Tutorez launched in Panama in March 2015 and is looking to expand with a different business model into the United States in 2016.

“My recommendation for the next participants YLAI is to maximize their experience in the program. Take advantage of the contact you establish with other young leaders in the region, what they do, how they do and what you can learn from their experiences. Also take advantage of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in which they are immersed in the US to learn and to network. The most important experience is to identify and act on opportunities that are generated to improve Panama, to the region and create strong ties with the US”, says Carbonell.

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative is a program of the U.S. Department of State. This program builds upon the success of the inaugural YLAI entrepreneurs’ project in March 2016. The YLAI Professional Fellows Program is supported in its implementation by Meridian International Center, a proud partner with Atlas Corps, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and community-based members and universities throughout the United States.  For further information, please contact the Meridian program team atYLAI@meridian.org. For press inquiries, please contact ECA-Press@state.gov.