Pathways to success

Cuzco’s Youth Employment Center (CJE) is her new home base. Launched in 2009 by Cuso International and its Peruvian partner group the Kallpa Association, the CJE helps disadvantaged youth set livelihood goals, find jobs or become self-employed.

“Many young, would-be entrepreneurs come up with great ideas. However, they often don’t know what to do with them. They get stuck. My role is to help them turn these ideas into feasible business plans,” says the 23-year old University of British Colombia Sauder School of Business graduate.

During the free, intensive and hands-on business workshops, participants are urged to dump throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks tactics and devise a feasible game plan. They learn about stock, staffing, budgeting, cash flow and overheads, conduct a market study, develop a marketing strategy and, most importantly, write a business plan.

“Some youth are unaware of their potential and talent, or simply need some encouragement. That’s why personalized coaching and mentorship are also part of the training course. Confidence, inspiration and motivation are just as important as basic financial skills or identifying a route to market,” says Kebede.

Kebede, whose parents were born in Ethiopia, is passionate about teaching and working with young entrepreneurs.

“I can definitely see myself growing in the fields of education and business. This experience is a very valuable stepping stone in my professional career path,” adds Kebede, whose advice to future volunteers is to appreciate the unexpected turns and seize every moment.