Entrepreneurs from Curacao and Aruba to join U.S. President Obama in Peru following successful YLAI trip

Given their successful participation at the 2016 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in the United States, Aruban entrepreneur Anika Stevens and Curacaoan entrepreneur Ulvrin Sprott were selected among the few finalists to meet with President Barack Obama, in Peru, for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, November 17-20, 2016.

The YLAI program commenced on October 5 in Dallas and culminated with a summit in Washington, D.C. in early November. Over the five weeks, participants shared their experiences in start-ups, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and similar entities in cities throughout the United States and in partnership with community groups and American universities. The participants further developed their business or social venture plans through an entrepreneurship curriculum and workshops, and by working alongside their American counterparts.

The YLAI initiative was launched to build linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere and to expand opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. Nearly 4,000 applications were received for the 2016 leg of the program. Some 250 business and social entrepreneurs were selected, representing 35 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The candidates were successful, having demonstrated “the energy of this generation to build stronger, more prosperous and more secure communities throughout the hemisphere.” Their areas of interest included agriculture, clean energy, consulting, e-commerce, education, entrepreneurship development and support, food and beverage, food security, health care, hospitality, LGBTI rights, marketing and branding, mobile applications, and women and youth empowerment.

Anika Stevens is the founder of Enamora, an online ecochic jewelry boutique that supports indigenous families in Ecuador. She provided training to indigenous families in the Ecuadorian Amazon to improve and support their traditional art techniques. Enamora aims to support even more families in different countries in the future. Anika is a passionate supporter of creating social change. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics at the University of Aruba. After graduating, she has taken several courses at CEDLA – Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation in Amsterdam to improve her knowledge about Latin America.

Ulvrin Sprott graduated from the University of Amsterdam in 2011 with a Master’s Degree in Tax Accounting and Tax Law. After working for the Tax Office of Curacao, he was project manager responsible for reorganizing the Tax Office of St. Martin. He founded Severus, which aims to help young entrepreneurs with their tax, legal, and accounting issues. Additionally, Severus provides workshops to entrepreneurs focused on how to start up their own company in addition to tax and financial issues. Ulvrin is also a board member of the AIDS Foundation Curacao.