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IDB fund to finance entrepreneurship training for low-income youths

The Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) today announced the approval of a grant and a soft loan totaling $4.3 million for a mentoring program that will train hundreds of low-income youths to become entrepreneurs in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

The program will be carried out by four nonprofit organizations that have adapted Youth Business International’s mentoring methodology to their local conditions. The methodology is based on a program of The Prince’s Trust, a charity founded by the Prince of Wales to help unemployed and disadvantaged young Britons.

Argentina’s Fundación Impulsar, the Câmara de Dirigentes Lojistas de Florianópolis, Brasil (Brazil’s Florianopolis Chamber of Retail Business Leaders), Fundación Mario Santo Domingo of Colombia, and Jóvenes Empresarios por México – JEMAC  (Young Business People for Mexico) expect to support more than 1,500 young entrepreneurs and recruit some 1,800 business leaders, managers and professionals as mentors. The enterprises started by the program’s beneficiaries should generate more than 3,000 new jobs.

The MIF expects the program to refine the mentoring model and establish a network of participants that will help disseminate these activities in other countries in Latin America, where youth unemployment remains at high levels.

The inclusion of the private sector should also foster further participation in mentoring programs as a good example of corporate social responsibility that can yield demonstrable benefits for youths, businesses and their communities.

Under the new program, the executing agencies will provide technical and financial assistance to low-income young people with potential for business careers. In order to be selected, youths will need to have a proposal for a business venture that is both viable and compatible with the program.

Young beneficiaries will receive assistance on how to prepare business plans, conduct market studies and start up and run a business. They will also have access to small loans to finance their enterprises.

The program will also promote the participation of business leaders, managers and professionals as mentors for young entrepreneurs. Mentors will be trained on how to provide both practical advice and guidance to youths on the importance of responsibility and honoring commitments.

The executing agencies, which have strong ties with large corporations in Argentina and Mexico and with business associations in Brazil and Colombia, will open offices in various cities to replicate the program and establish new networks of mentors and young entrepreneurs.

The MIF, an autonomous fund managed by the IDB, promotes the development of the private sector and efficient markets in Latin America and the Caribbean. Among other areas of activity, it supports projects on corporate social responsibility, labor training and certification and small enterprise networks and supply chains.

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