Thank you 2016. Welcome 2017!!!

Washington DC, December 13th, 2016 -We finish the 2016 with much joy and lessons learned, and also with the pleasant memory of having worked with all you, young entrepreneurs, partners, colleagues and friends of the YABT. Many thanks for the trust in our programs and for being part of it. Without you, none of this would be possible!         

We were able to celebrate the XI Edition of the TIC Americas, where we awarded the 13 more outstanding teams of a total of 2,795 participating proposals, a clear evidence of the relevance and importance of entrepreneurship in our region. A special thanks to the Organization of the American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, PepsiCo, CBC, Postobon, BanReservas, the Government of the Dominican Republic, and all those young people that were present during all the process.  

In response to this wonderful results, we launched in September the XII Edition of the Talent and Innovation Competition(TIC Americas) and the Eco-Challenge 8.0, the finals will be held in Mexico in the frame of the 47 General Assembly of the OAS. We invite young entrepreneurs to participate in the competition and to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs).

New categories, new challenges! This new TIC Americas edition proposes two categories: Startup Challenge and Eco-Challenge. Startup Challenge is focused in the development of solutions corresponding to the orange, purple and green economies, in support of the implementation of the SDGs. The Eco-Challenge: Sustainable Agriculture, Efficient Recycling and Collection of PET and BOPP, and Access to Water.   

In coordination with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the REACH Program, we launched the Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC), a regional competition for entrepreneurs of the CARICOM member countries, that promotes the transformation of innovative ideas and smart solutions in intellectual patents and business models through the Intellectual Marketing of Ideas (IMI).            

Thanks to the support of BanReservas, we held TIC Dominican Republic for the first time. A national category developed to boost the development of sustainable companies among young Dominican entrepreneurs. For2017, we have doubled the bet for the XII Edition of TIC Americas. Thank you so much BanReservas!#CREEBANRESERVAS.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development of the Organization of the American States (OAS) provided its support to the YABT through the TIC Americas Social Innovation Award. This is an opportunity for the young entrepreneurs of the Americas that, through innovation, technology, creativity, and social awareness, develop necessary solutions to improve our region.

In an effort to strengthen the role of entrepreneurial women and recognize their great work, the World Bank granted the Recognition to the Young Innovative Woman of the Americas; Diana D'Herrera was the winner with "Thermy", a software solution for the early detection of breast cancer by the sole use of a smartphone.           

In addition, PepsiCo presented the Recognition to the Woman Entrepreneur during TIC Americas 2016. This recognition was awarded to Jompéame, a collective financing solution developed in the Dominican Republic that has currently been established as the leading platform in the country. In 2017, PepsiCo, in its efforts to continue supporting female entrepreneurs in the Americas, will present a new recognition, stay tuned!        

Thanks to the support of the Israeli Agency of International Cooperation for Development (MASHAV), hundreds of young and business development professionals, were trained in a dozen of workshops in Latin America and the Caribbean, led by Israeli experts. Around 40 young entrepreneurs and representatives of organizations that foster entrepreneurship, participated in two international month long courses in Israel. The startups with greater global impact potential were awarded with services and scholarships for international training.

The Business Laboratories and NexLinks "Support Systems for Business Development", were developed this year with the objective of developing skills and capacities to improve the business competitiveness in: Guatemala, El Salvador, Guyana, Jamaica, Dominica, Panama, Costa Rica, Suriname, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bahamas.

The International NexLinks Missions "Connections and Exchange of Experiences on Entrepreneurship", were some of the most important milestones for YABT in 2016. Mexico and Washington, D.C., became the headquarters of the missions that took place this year. These experiences had the participation of representatives from the financial, educational and private sectors, as well as civil society hailing from Mexico, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador and Colombia. The delegates had the opportunity to participate in customized sessions that allowed them to experience the best practices of different organizations in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development. During the missions, the participants not only got to know first hand the stakeholders from the local entrepreneurial ecosystem; but also, to show case their own initiatives as best practices from the hemisphere- to entities as the OAS, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, 1776, WeWork, Voice of America, entities from the business ecosystem in Mexico, among others.

We continue committed with the promotion of young participation and the inclusion of youth voices in the process of the Summits of the Americas and the General Assembly of the OAS, through the Young Americas Forum. In May, young people had the opportunity to participate in an open dialogue with the Secretary General of the OAS, and in June a young delegate shared the report where thousands of youth contributed in the General Assembly of the OAS in the Dominican Republic. In addition, the Commission of Migratory Affairs of the OAS, provided a space for youth at the Forum "Migration and Development: Towards the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda". The results of this dialogue as well as other 27 hemispheric dialogues developed in alliance with the Network of Ibero-American Youth, the Youth Network of the Americas and other local, national and regional initiatives, were presented in the Social Actors Dialogue with the heads of Delegations at the General Assembly of the OAS.            

We had the honor of supporting and being part of two important summits led by youth; in Medellin, the Youth Network of the Americas had its first international meeting, and Bogota was the location of the first Summit of Entrepreneurship and Democracy, organized by the Network of Ibero-American Youth. Today, YABT’s channels remain open and are projecting young people’s participation in the next General Assembly to be celebrated in Mexico, for seeing the V Young Americas Forum to be developed in Peru in 2018.               

In 2016, we built alliances with different areas of the OAS. YABT will support the Department of Effective Public Management to drive new initiatives for Open Government. We will implement joint actions to provide greater opportunities to young professionals participating in the "OAS Fellowship for Open Governmentin the Americas". In coordination with the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and funding from CiTi Foundation, we will develop the program "Creating a professional career in Digital Security" which will train young people of four OAS Member States in leadership and provide technical skills in technology. In addition, we will continue to support to the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development in the opening of opportunities for entrepreneurs in the next Forum of Competitiveness of the Americas, to be held in Mexico in October 2017.               

During 2016, YABT had the opportunity to be part of the highest level international programs: ECOSOC Youth Forum at the United Nations, Spring and Annual Meeting of the World Bank and the IMF, the Global Summit of Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley, organized by President Barack Obama, the 2016 SXSW Technology Festival in Texas, the closure of the "YLAI Fellows Program" in Washington, D.C., the Campaign for Young African Entrepreneurs in New York, activities in the Global Week of Entrepreneurship in the Dominican Republic and other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the International Meeting "Youth Policy and Inequalities in Latin America", that took place in Mexico City, among others.    

In alliance with Making Cents International and in the framework of the USAID Program, Youth Power, YABT led the community of practice on Youth, Peace, and Security. This program has the objective to explore and promote the role of the young people in the peacebuilding efforts and highlight the important role of entrepreneurship, leadership, and the Positive Youth Development approach.

We closed the year with a YABT Boot Camp renovated portal, to offer more and better opportunities for youth. The new website presents greater navigability and access to the content that YABT generates for young entrepreneurs. This resource center offers tools for successful development of business plans, financial viability, marketing strategies, planning, administration, and finance, among others, that encourage the consolidation of business ideas and companies.

Thanks again to all the young entrepreneurs, leaders and change-makers, to our partners, allies and sponsors that allowed us to strengthen our presence and activities in the global level, which was our main goal for 2016. A special mention to the professionals that are part of the YABT team both in the Washington, D.C. headquarters, as well as in other countries; and to all the young volunteers that supported us during this year. Thank you very much for your commitment, enthusiasm, talent, and professionalism, without you, none of this would have been possible. To our Board of Directors, thank you so much for the support and trust.

Finally, a greeting, thanks, and special recognition to H.E. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS and to H.E. Nestor Mendez, Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, and the members of his cabinet for the support and the trust provided. #ProudToBeOAS.

The goal now is to double efforts to continue providing more opportunities and more support to the young people around the world in the innovative implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We wish that 2017find us working hand by hand for the social and economic development of our youth!           

A big hug, many thanks and happy holidays!

The YABT Family