Part of the mandate of the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) is to assist individuals and institutions in acquiring the necessary technical skills to be able to cope with the challenges of the diversification of the economy from a sugar-based to a service-oriented one. The SIDF has granted assistance to young people through the government’s Youth Empowerment through Skills (YES) program.
The SIDF contributed EC$7,738,704 to the YES program and EC$2,500,000 to the Youth Empowerment through Skill Entrepreneur Fund (YESEF). The purpose of the YESEF is to encourage and facilitate entrepreneurship among graduates of the YES program, while facilitating growth in the medium, small and micro-business sectors of the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis.
The YES program was started in 2009 and administered by the National Skills Training Program of the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ministry of Social and Community Development and Gender Affairs. Under this program, over 1000 young persons were trained and certified in various skills, including agriculture, aquaculture, business administration, basic computer skills, building construction, industrial maintenance, mechanics, welding, beauty services and clothing and textile.
Recognizing that young people equipped with skills must be empowered through employment and entreneurship, the SIDF partnered with the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) through the YESEF grant to provide loans of up to EC$25,000 at a low interest rate to graduates of the program who wished to start their own business.
The SIDF has demonstrated that it continues to meet its objectives of assisting in the development of industries to transition to a service-oriented economy and that it is committed to funding these alternative industries and providing further support to secure their sustainability.