Applications are open for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Programme 2024. YLAI empowers entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.
Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, more than 1,000 YLAI Fellows from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and organizations across the United States. Through the YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum and individualized professional placements, YLAI Fellows have accelerated their commercial and social ventures’ success and developed specific action plans to implement upon return to their home countries. YLAI Fellows built networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures.
Programme components have included:
- Four-week Professional Placement: In cities across the United States, YLAI Fellows gain valuable professional development skills and experience at U.S. entrepreneurial organizations from the Fellow’s business sector. Fellows will collaborate with their placement host on their Entrepreneurial Leadership Action Plan (E-LAP) which the Fellows will implement upon return to their home countries.
- YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum: The YLAI Fellowship Program includes online and in-person coursework, developed by IREX and Arizona State University (ASU), that combines technical entrepreneurship training and leadership development. Using the E-LAP, Fellows will set and achieve their entrepreneurial leadership goals.
- YLAI Welcome Workshop in the United States: The YLAI team will meet Fellows in Houston upon arrival for a four-day welcome meeting. This meeting will be to welcome Fellows to the US and give YLAI advisors and Fellows the chance to meet and go over logistics, discussion of community guidelines, and programme policies.
- YLAI Closing Forum in the United States: YLAI Fellows participate in the YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, D.C., as well as networking events with business and social entrepreneurial leaders, and U.S. government representatives.
- Post-Fellowship Sustained Engagement: After successful completion of the Fellowship, YLAI Fellows continue their collaboration with U.S. partners and have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentorships, networking, and alumni activities. YLAI Fellows will have the chance to welcome a U.S. host to their country through the Outbound Exchange Programme, sharing their expertise on the entrepreneurship climate in their country.
There is no fee to apply to become a YLAI Fellow. If selected for the YLAI Fellowship Programme, the U.S. Government will cover all programme costs. Financial provisions provided by the U.S. Government will include:
- J-1 visa support. No visa support will be offered to dependents, as this is an unaccompanied programme.
- Round-trip travel from participant’s home city to the United States and domestic U.S. travel, as required by the programme.
- YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum coursework and mentoring;
- Closing Forum in Washington, D.C.;
- Four-week professional placement with host organization;
- A limited accident and sickness benefit plan; and
- Housing and meal stipend during the programme.
The YLAI Fellowship Programme is open to young entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria:
- Are between the ages of 25 and 35 by January 1, 2024.
- Are a resident and citizen of one of the participating countries*: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
* In the specific cases of residency in Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, citizenship in the Netherlands is accepted
- Are eligible to receive a U.S. J-1 visa.
- Have a demonstrated track record of successfully growing their own business or social venture for at least two (2) years.
- Are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
- Are not a U.S. government employee.
- Are proficient in reading, writing, and speaking English.
The YLAI Fellowship Programme Selection Committee uses the following criteria to evaluate applications and interviews:
- Demonstrated professional entrepreneurial experience and knowledge.
- Commitment to community or public service, mentorship, or volunteerism in your home country and to applying entrepreneurial and leadership skills, experience and knowledge to benefit your community and country.
- Demonstrated understanding of how your personal and professional goals align with program objectives.
- Demonstrated leadership, commitment to your organization’s or business’s success, positive attitude, initiative, and perseverance.
Applications must be submitted online by February 15, 2023 at 11:59 pm ET to be considered. Applications that are mailed, faxed or emailed to IREX will not be accepted.