U.S. Consulate General Curacao Announces 2023 Fellows for the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)

The U.S. Mission to the Dutch Caribbean is proud to announce the 2023 cohort for the U.S. Department of State’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship Program. Three young leaders from Curacao and one from Sint Maarten have been selected.   

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship is the U.S. Department of State’s flagship program for emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders from the Western Hemisphere. During a fully funded five -week exchange program, the Fellowship offers YLAI Fellows the opportunity to improve their leadership and entrepreneurial skills through hands-on experience, online coursework, and face-to-face training. The YLAI Fellowship fosters business relationships and connections between entrepreneurs in the United Sates and those across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada.  

The Dutch Caribbean 2023 cohort is:

Dominque Hodge, Sint Maarten – Dominique works in the Food and Beverages sector as an ice pop specialist providing tasty local treats from her company Tropsical. During the host placement, Dominique hopes to learn how to be an effective leader and how to assemble a team with similar values to grow the brand and inspire others to become entrepreneurs.

Monifa Jansen, Curacao – Monifa works in the Fashion sector as a self-employed social media content creator (influencer) leading a vast online audience, mainly focused on beauty, arts, and fashion. During the host placement, she hopes to learn from a US business how to expand her business beyond content creation and move to the next level of entrepreneurship.

Caroline Kolk, Curacao – Caroline is a holistic health and wellness practitioner who works in the Health sector leading The Space. During the host placement, Caroline hopes to find a partner that can help the company expand across the Caribbean and into Central and South America, making the region the top destination for healing and wellbeing.

Alton Paas, Curacao – Alton works in the Health sector leading Fundashon Alton Paas, a non-profit working to improve the quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries and other neurological disabilities. During the host placement, he hopes to learn how to extend the foundation’s impact and further awareness and services.

The 2023 YLAI Fellowship Program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, launched in December with a virtual Fellowship Leadership Curriculum and orientation. In May, fellows will split into cohorts and travel to 19 cities across the United States for four-week professional placements with U.S. businesses. They will collaborate with their peers to address shared business challenges, as well as engage in virtual and in-person events and cross-cultural activities. At the end of their professional placement, YLAI Fellows will travel to Washington, D.C. for the YLAI Closing Forum, before returning home to complete their Entrepreneurial Leadership Action Plans.

Fellows return to their ventures with new skills, resources, ongoing support from U.S. counterparts, and a broader network. YLAI strengthens business ties between the U.S. and Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and promotes inclusive economic growth by giving a diverse array of entrepreneur’s access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentorship, life-long connections, and continued collaboration with U.S. partners.

If you are an entrepreneur aged 23-35 and want to expand your business and learn new skills, the YLAI Fellowship Program is for you. Apply today and don’t miss your chance to collaborate and network with U.S. organizations and other entrepreneurial leaders across the region! Applications for the 2024 YLAI Program are due February 15. Visit ylai.state.gov/apply to apply.

For further information, please contact Cu********@st***.gov and follow the fellowship on social media using #YLAI2023.