The theme of the discourses could not be more poignant: “Securing our Citizens” Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability – a topic with far reaching implications which impact on the younger generation heavily and will dictate the world that our children live in.e TecK Vice President, Wendy Fitzwilliam was one of the feature speakers at the Youth Forum and spoke on the topic ‘The Role of Young People in Business and Entrepreneurship.’ Her presentation focused on the role of youth in creating new business and highlighted e TecK’s role in developing new opportunities within Trinidad and Tobago (TT) and the rest of the region for young people wishing to start their own businesses.
She said it was important to foster and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth. Wendy spoke of her experience while going to law school where one of her colleagues, a Jamaican, would always question the teacher’s grade no matter how well he did in an exam…once it wasn’t 100 percent he would question it, at that time it was irritating to say the least…but that very gentleman is now one of Jamaica’s top lobbyist, he has done tremendous work in legislative reform in various areas. She highlighted the importance of harnessing such persistence and determination even when it seems unnecessary. She explained that most mega corporations such as Procter and Gamble, Microsoft, Apple were started by very young people and local conglomerates like Neal and Massy and Ansa McAl Group experienced tremendous growth in the 80s when the world and TT faced similar economic challenges to what is happening now.
The TT government’s bold move in removing our ‘negative list’ and other protectionist policies to protect local manufacturers forced our private sector to step up to international standards to compete and survive. Now TT originated business dominates the regional trade in several key sectors.
Wendy added that TT’s educational system was among one of the strongest in the region and urged participants to take full advantage of the opportunities which it presented such as free education at all levels. However, she noted that not all youth are academically inclined and there are also opportunities/programmes being offered by the state to harness technical and other skills.
“You don’t need a degree to start you own business. Many people in the world today with successful businesses such as Bill Gates and Machel Montano, who have succeeded did not follow the traditional educational route but succeeded nevertheless in their ventures because of their initiatives, innovation and risk taking capabilities. These together with their humility in recognizing they do not have the answers and adaptability to the ever changing environment.”
She also urged parents to encourage and believe in their children’s dreams even though it may not be what they had envisaged for them. “Flexibility is critical when dealing with young people. Support your children in helping them to make their dreams a reality.”
Wendy advised young people to seek out opportunities where they live. “Volunteer with small companies, sign up for internships, engage in activities that harness your skill set and position yourself for future opportunities.”
She added that right now TT must commercialize its innovation to survive the economic storm and noted that one of e TecK’s mandates is to facilitate the diversification of the economy by providing the platform for new business development.
She urged participants to use the youth forum as an opportunity to build networks and maintain relationships with persons throughout the Americas as this will be important for their own future growth and development.
As part of its philanthropic initiatives and recognizing the importance of youth development in TT, e TecK recently donated $5,000 to the Heroes Foundation to assist the organisation with hosting their annual Heroes Convention which was held on April 24 and 25 at UTT’s Graduation Pavilion.
The theme for Heroes Convention V was “The Hero in You…Discover the Volunteer Within!” and had a strong emphasis on promoting Youth Volunteer Activities and Social Responsibility. This topic was chosen because according to Savina Ramkissoon, Executive Manager, Heroes Foundation, this topic is seen as a growing concern for this country’s corporate citizens as well as the general public.
She said the Convention’s focus has been influenced by the organisation’s 2008 objective which was promoting ‘Promoting Social Responsibility among our Nation’s Youth.’ “We are therefore committed to developing a means by which our youth and other individuals can become more socially aware and involved in positively influencing the future of Trinidad and Tobago.