“Dream Big!” hailed Alejandra Sayas as she shared with us her greatest challenges and hopes in her work with the youth of Cartagena. She said, “My biggest challenge has been to encourage kids in a society that does not encourage or allow them to dream.” Alejandra is the leader of Opportunity Colombia’s Youth Entrepreneur Program, an innovative program to reach the high-risk youth of Colombia. Her inspirational message to them is clear: dream big.
We all sat in a circle in a very modest Baptist Church located blocks away from one of the most dangerous slums in Cartagena, as Alejandra told us how she helps some of the nearly 280 kids in the program do just that. We met Rafael, a 22-year-old entrepreneur, who believes that he and his friends “lack the knowledge to grow a business,” and so he said, “we want education.” Opportunity’s Youth Entrepreneur Program is a novel way to bring them that education by teaching them to develop a business plan. This is the next generation of Opportunity International clients. They have seen their parent’s life improve through Opportunity International loans and now they want to progress and work their way out of the poverty that has befallen them. Their parents have left them a legacy of Opportunity: work, faith, hope, and the ability to dream big. Rafael commented that they were distinctive from the other youth in his village and said, “In Colombia they are training the youth to be workers rather than business people, so we [Youth Entrepreneur Program] are different than them.”
-An excerpt from a blog written by Jeannette Stewart, a member of the Opportunity International Board of Governors
To read more about Jeannette's experiences in Colombia visit http://www.opportunity.org/blog/day-4-dream-big-opportunity-colombia-empowers-young-entrepreneurs-mothers-trust-groups-more-through-microfinance/