Twenty six year old Hernan Urbina, a young Belizean entrepreneur from Orange Walk Town, is one of the three talented and young Belizeans chosen to participate in this year’s Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, (YLAI), a program hosted by US President Barack Obama. The program is geared at increasing the development of young entrepreneurial skills, to assist young people in Latin America and the Caribbean to become financially stable and enhance their economic opportunity.
Urbina, who has been managing his family’s business for the past four years, was chosen from a total of four thousand applicants from over thirty six countries from Central America and the Caribbean. Today when our news team paid him a visit, he spoke to us about the work he put into receiving this fellowship.
“I first heard about this program through Facebook on a post that Beltrade had put it, I was anxious at firs but then I said that I would take on the task, when I accepted the task it was a lot of where to do where to apply, we had to do about twenty essays, we had to do several questionnaires and several presentations for the wildlife, it was about four thousand people who had applied and from there they would cut it down to 16% that made it to the finalist and thankfully I made it to the second round and from there they gave us about a week to prepare for an interview and through the interview process it was a face to face webchat we had with the people from the YLAI and they asked us questions about our business, what we think about leadership and what we think about how we can further develop and how we can help our community and then from there they gave us a month break so they can review the application process and then I got my application and my acceptance email from them, it was Friday and I was nervous to check my email but then I got the courage to check it and the first thing that I saw was congratulations and I told my mom I got it.”
Ms.Norma Ruiz – CTV3 Reporter
“I know it was a lot of works for you into just apply for this program so, what was your feeling like when you got that acceptance that you know that you got in?”
“It was a form of relief at first because it was a lot of work that I actually think of giving up because it was too much work and I had work to do here at Ice-Break but then I put my mind to it so I did all the work I could do and then they gave us a month break so from that break I took all my work, so when I got the acceptance I was relief and so happy that I put so much work into it and I was really happy that I got it.”
Urbina believes that one of the things that set him apart from the many other applicants, was his idea of having a family friendly space where both the young and the young at heart can enjoy.
“One of the reasons I believe that I received this opportunity is because I talked to them about Ice-Break being a family oriented place and being one of the only places in Orange Walk where we have both young, old, locals and tourist they all come here to a family safe place and this is one of the only places in Orange Walk that they can come and a lot of student come here, those from the Lamanai trips they come here and I talk a lot of that to the wildlife people telling them that here in Ice-Break we strive to have that family oriented place and they really enjoyed that part of it. Through YLAI we had to present a business plan and about four different action plans that we want to carry out, as many of Orange Walk people I work here at Ice-Break ad my action plans and my business plans is based upon this business here, many of the action plans I took on was I want to enhance my business and I want target different markets, I want to increase revenues but mostly I want to turn my business into a franchise so that was one of the main reasons why I got into this program was to make Ice-Break bigger and to be able to go Belize City or to San Pedro to have an Ice-Break there so through the wildlife we will have mentors to help us achieve these action plans and they will also put us to work in several businesses that are similar to businesses that we have and we will be able to network with the other 250 applicants, we have already been working together with them and we have already been doing networking through WhatsApp group and Facebook we’ve been sending them our ideas and telling the about our business and so far I have meet a guy from Mexico who does his own chocolates and maybe we can exchange ideas; he can bring me his chocolates and I can make Mexican ice-cream, there is this girl from Bolivia who does stuff toys, there is this guy from el Salvador who does his own T-shirts from El Salvador so it is a wide network of young entrepreneurs and I am excited to meet all of them.”
As for the program its self, Urbina hopes to walk away with the necessary skills needed to realize his dream of turning his family business- the iconic Ice Break- into a franchise that will create many jobs for the Belizean people.
“I’ll be able to bring new ideas here to my business at Ice-break, I’ll be able to franchise, I’ll be able to have a bigger business, I’ll be able to employ more people, I’ll be able to have a different Ice-Break in Belize City and San Pedro like I said and just be able to have that mentor with a person who has had the experience and be able to learn from them on how they were able to reach to the point in which they are and then bring that back to my business.”
The other two Belizeans joining Hernan Urbina in the YLAI program that will commence in the first week of October are Andrew Munings of Belize City and Stephan Diaz of Belmopan City.
The program will be taking place in Texas and Washington for a duration of one month.
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