When Abigale Loncke applied for the 2016 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) in the United States, she never expected that she would be competing against 250 young entrepreneurs for the best business pitch in Washington, DC neither did she plan on travelling to Peru to meet US President Barack Obama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
Loncke is the founder of Community Health Care, an agency which offers home care service for elderly persons, the sick, disabled, and children. The agency also gives back to the society by providing training for women, who are in need of employment and a second chance at life. Locke’s team would integrate these women into society, teach them life skills and offer them jobs within the company.
She was one of the four Guyanese selected to represent the nation at the YLAI. The initiative brought together 250 young leaders from Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States for an exchange programme that involves internship and skills-building workshops.
The YLAI is the brainchild of President Obama, who is committed to empowering young people around the world by ensuring that they have the network and skills to fight global challenges.
The programme began on October 5 in Texas and ended with a summit in Washington, DC in early November. Over the six weeks, participants exchanged experiences in start-ups, small businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations, and similar entities in cities throughout the United States and in partnership with community groups and American universities.
The 250 participants further developed their business plans through an entrepreneurship curriculum and workshops. They were trained and mentored by the Chambers of Business Commerce in the US and by influential business persons.
After a successful business pitch in Alabama, Loncke was selected to attend the APEC Summit to meet the President, making her the first young entrepreneur to win the first half of the YLAI in the US. She stated that although, she did not win the best business pitch prize in Washington, DC, the experience was enough to last a lifetime.
“I am glad that I was representing Guyana. I carried my flag with me all the way…and even though I didn’t win the Washington prize, I’m grateful for the experience and the knowledge I have gained from some of the best entrepreneurs in the world,” she told Guyana Times in a recent interview.
Loncke said she was amazed that she was selected with a few of the other finalists to attend the summit in Peru with Obama. “I never expected this. We were told because of his schedule and the US elections, he was unable to meet with the YLAI entrepreneurs and so a few were selected to meet with him in Peru,” she added.
She will leave Guyana on Wednesday for Peru for the summit and will meet with Obama on Saturday at a Town Hall meeting. The APEC summit will commence on November 17 and end November 19.