Amid the mad rush to launch Grenada 40 we decided to pause for a moment. We took a moment to sit down, consider and try to explain exactly why young emerging talent in Grenada and among the diaspora needs to be more effectively supported.

It was actually a lot harder than expected to explain the logic behind our approach and it’s debatable whether this format will allow us to achieve our aims. Grenada 40 isn’t just about creating content. We are conscious and mindful about stimulating debate and shaping conversations that can inspire action.

We are conscious and mindful about stimulating debate and shaping conversations that can inspire action. We want to be transparent about our purpose, the impact we hope to achieve and to get as much of your input as possible towards making this vision a reality.

1. Inspire a generation to dream bigger

All too often young people are defined as a problem to be remedied. Rather than continuing this narrative that generates fear, resentment and serves only to perpetuate negativity we have to start to incubate and champion emerging talent in order to create a virtuous circle.

By actively seeking out and promoting Grenadian success stories across a range of industries from the arts to technology, business to science other young people may begin to dream about their futures in bigger and bolder ways. It means stimulating their interest in new ways and widening perceptions of what it means to succeed.

2. Support youth to increase business dynamism

If the World Bank’s statistics is to be believed, if you take the age of an average Grenadian business manager as a proxy for business dynamism, the island has one of the least dynamic corporate sectors in the entire Caribbean with the average manager having been in his/her post for over 20 years.

For productivity to grow new blood needs to flow through the veins of the nation’s private and public sectors. There’s no Brave New World scenario we’re advocating here but the figures strongly indicate that a new approach to getting young people into management positions isn’t just good for a small sector of society, it stands to benefit the nation as a whole.

3. Build a foundation for the future

There’s a common saying that Grenada’s most precious natural resource is its people. The island’s population is relatively young – 31% are under the age of 16 while just 12% are 60+.

Maybe it’s about time that we seize the opportunity to cash in on the “demographic dividend” by doing more to promote a generation of well-educated, gainfully employed young men and women who can have a positive impact on the country’s economic growth rates too.

As Director General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder, said last year, “doing right by youth is a foundation for future success.”

4. Bolster Grenada’s homegrown talent

Last year the government declared that “Grenada is open for business”.  A number of studies appear to indicate that, on the rare occasions that foreign direct investment (FDI) does lead to spillovers into local economies, it has a lot to do with the absorptive capacity of domestic firms.

In real English it means that Grenada can invite as many multinationals as it wants into the country but without a private sector built upon a workforce that able to capture some (education, experience, technology) then growth will be hard to come by.

Say, for example, a new hotel opens up but has to hire not only external managers but also service staff then it’s hard to see how the wealth that such a project brings will meaningfully trickle through into the wider economy.

We can’t scrimp on investing and championing our youth if FDI to work in Grenada’s interests. While investors are most certainly needed and welcomed, we need to bolster homegrown talent if we want a truly sustainable form of development.

5. Provide a platform to promote emerging talent

Whether they’re looking for a job or want to start a business of their own, young people need training that meets the demands of the private sector. But all the training in the world on it’s own won’t solve the issue of limited access to financing.

Entrepreneurship is increasingly being touted as the silver bullet to drive growth and boost employment amid the ongoing economic downturn. Yet, a recent report found that one of the key barriers to increased engagement between businesses in the Caribbean and potential investors among the diaspora, includes the low visibility of fledgling enterprises.

By strategically promoting the talents of the country’s rising stars (at home and abroad) to a global audience emerging change-makers can achieve a far greater reach.

6. Engage the next generation among the diaspora

Back in 2011, Grenada played host to the Caribbean-Canada Emerging Leaders’ Dialogue. The theme of the discussions was “Growth Through Connections: Enabling Sustainable Progress”. Three years on it seems as if this networked approach to delivering development has never been so necessary.

Aid, as we know it, to the Caribbean is drying up and there’s not much that national leaders can do about this. Which is why finding effective ways to engage with future generations of change makers within the diaspora is so important.

A reported 87% of tertiary educated Grenadians emigrate from the island. The Caribbean is the world’s largest recipient of remittances as a share of GDP. But Grenada needs to build links between its citizens at home and those among the diaspora living in global cities.

The diaspora represent, not only, a significant investment potential in the region’s developmental plans but also are a means for the nation to harness the networks and skills of second and third generation migrants living in global cities to foster development back home.

7. Spread the wealth

If all this strikes you as rose-tinted, idealistic dreaming then how about this? Unemployment in Grenada currently stands at around 30 percent (although if anyone can share the exact figures, it would be much appreciated).

While the region-wide strategy for the five years will focus principally on facilitating private development and job creation the reality is that in the mean time, high and persistent unemployment amid an environment of widening income inequality is a recipe for disaster.

“…the issue of high and persistent unemployment has become even more important as people choose less to accept it, as they are more informed about the financial results related to the wealth  created by firms, the distribution of income and economic growth” (Borda, Craigwell, Gbaguidi and Maurin, 2012).

We’ve said it already but this reality underscores the importance of taking concrete steps towards addressing the unemployment and underemployment issues that Grenada currently faces. Support our young!

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