Apr 04, 2021 News
By Rehanna Ramsay
Kaieteur News – “Imagine a Guyana whose young people are determined to make a difference, committed to excellence, community, and country. Imagine if they had more resources, or were taught and encouraged to be more resourceful…”
This is the concept behind Brand YOUth, a new empowerment movement that aims to harness the leadership capabilities of the nation’s young people towards achieving a common goal –building a better Guyana.
A goal, which, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brand YOUth, Selywn Collins, explained could be achieved through three basic strategies, building economic relief initiatives, empowerment initiatives and an entrepreneurial academy.He explained that the concept behind Brand YOUth was birthed just less than three years ago.
Since then, Brand YOUth has hosted the inaugural 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurial Awards, held a Tax Reform Forum in an effort to foster meaningful discourse on how Guyana’s tax regime may be made more favourable for local entrepreneurs.Brand YOUth is pushing other initiatives to engage, enlighten, empower, and encourage entrepreneurship.
The US-based web solutions consultant, who is known for his self titled Web TV broadcast series “Conversations With Selwyn” (CWS), told Kaieteur News that the idea was spun from a conversation, he had years before with Guyanese in the Diaspora about the nation’s youth.
“They were making some quite disparaging remarks about our young people here in Guyana. They were saying things like the Guyanese young people were not ambitious; they have this sense of entitlement, did not want to work and were basically waiting for handouts and that hurt me because I knew it was not true and so I wanted to do something to change that perception about our young people. I just did not know what was at the time,” Collins said.
At that time, Collins was on a journey of capturing the stories of prominent people, many of them Guyanese or of Guyanese heritage.
The CSW creator has since interviewed over 500 people from across the world and put together a collection of their stories with the hope of giving the future generations a glimpse into the lives of key/historical figures.
Collins said that many of the people featured in CSW collection of stories have amazing life stories to tell.
The web solutions specialist, who believes that people are never more connected than when they share their stories, explained that it helps to expose people to the commonalities that “show us that despite the cultural and ethnic differences, we are more alike than different.”
He continued, “I wanted to share the knowledge and experience but more importantly create a library for future generations, so that young people have access to these amazing minds.”
Collins noted that same concept started an empowerment movement that is now known as Brand YOUth global. After hosting a number of initiatives, including a women’s empowerment conference here, Collins said that he was moved to highlight the stories of some of the amazing young people making an impact on Guyana’s academics, creative, humanitarian and skills frontier.
“I started to say to myself imagine if we can harness these powerful stories of young people and put on a platform to inspire others. It is more than just showing them off to the Diaspora but giving the other young people right here in Guyana something to look up to so that they can move in the direction of improving themselves.”
As the idea for the empowerment initiative began to evolve, Collins said that he reached out to some of the nation’s leading young people and started a discussion on how he could honour them and highlight their achievements.
And within the space of one year, Collins said Brand YOUth (Global) was born. In April 2019, the movement held the inaugural 40 Under 40 Entrepreneurial Awards, a ceremony that featured 40 of the crème de la crème of Guyana’s young people under the age of 40 years.
Among the awardees, is Research Entrepreneur, Anjie Lambert; CEO of Curl Fete Natural Hair and Beauty Expo, Tamika Henry-Fraser; Eldon Marks, Founder and CEO at V75 Inc; Evie Kanhai-GurChuran, the Managing Director of Girls in Tech Guyana and CEO of Java Coffee Bar; Dr. Vishnu Doerga, CEO Action INVEST Caribbean Inc. and Action Coach Guyana, and Stacy Dos Santos Rahaman, co-founder of the popular tourism blog/website Visit Guyana.
The movement, which currently boasts 40 ambassadors, is expected to grow annually.
“We have a mentorship programme and other [initiatives] to help bring the youth of Guyana together…” Collins added.
Speaking on the prospects of the movement, Brand YOUth Awards Alumni, Eldon Marks, told Kaieteur News that he is looking forward to networking with the community of youthful entrepreneurs, academics and skill sets to help bring improvement to the nation.
He noted that Brand YOUth offers an avenue for Guyana’s young to pool efforts to address issues affecting them individually and collectively.
“If a single purpose driven entrepreneur has the potential to change the world, you can imagine what a community of us can do,” he said, adding that Brand YOUth is looking to roll out a series of campaigns aimed at addressing the root causes of several issues facing Guyana’s young people.
Marks noted that through its empowerment strategy the brand is poised to greatly impact many youths, particularly entrepreneurs.
“Brand YOUth is committed to addressing many of these issues by encouraging participation from those directly affected– the Guyanese entrepreneurs,” he said.
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