Youths get into position to tap oil wealth
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President of the YOA, Dennon Lewis (Adrian Narine photo)
President of the YOA, Dennon Lewis (Adrian Narine photo)

…new organisation formed to get them involved in oil and gas sector

By Navendra Seoraj

A GROUP of young people have pooled their resources and ideas together to form the Youth and Oil Association (YOA), which is aimed at empowering young entrepreneurs and professionals to take advantage of direct and indirect opportunities in the budding oil and gas sector.

Over the years, young people have been taking a front seat in development, so it was only fitting for them to feel the benefits from what is expected to be a massive petroleum industry.

“The YOA came about as a result of Guyana’s two richest resources, youth and oil, which we have in abundance…one is being explored and extracted and the other is yet to be explored and extracted, so we took it on ourselves to bring about something which young businesses and individuals are in need of,” said President of YOA, Dennon Lewis, during his remarks at the launch of the association, last Thursday.

Legal Director of the YOA, Ayodele Roache (Adrian Narine photo)

The association is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and not-for-profit organisation, which was established to help youth-based businesses become more viable and sustainable, so that they can benefit from the various opportunities as well as the spill-offs from the oil industry.

Lewis said the association hopes to educate individuals on the direct and indirect benefits in oil and gas, and to advocate for the right policies, which would result in young people benefitting from the emerging industry. The YOA already intends on pushing for the implementation of the Local Content Policy which has been on the discussion table for a while.

As they push for local involvement, the group also intends on paying close attention to the reality that many young people are yet to understand the direct link between their ventures and the oil and gas sector. For instance, it is unclear how an entertainer brining artistes to Guyana or how someone in the transportation sector will benefit from the oil and gas sector.

“Our aim is to bring this information to the young people and assist them in getting the right standards and quality, the right certifications, so they can be competitive like the other businesses,” said Lewis.

The mission of the YOA is to create opportunities for Guyanese youth from oil and gas through education, advocacy and support.

YOA believes that by educating individuals about the oil sector, persons would be more equipped to benefit from the ripple effect of the sector and will be further empowered to cash in on the other opportunities available through indirect industries and sectors. The team, headed by a youth-centre executive body, will be working closely to provide support in the form of financing, coaching and technical expertise through partnerships with multiple organisations and companies.

Members of the Executive Committee of the YOA (Adrian Narine photo)

“As it is right now we are in talks with local and international bodies which are in agreement with the calls for the association,” said Lewis, adding that the association is also engaging partners and organisations, which will offer technical services or provide capital for startup businesses.

One of the association’s affiliates, the Masterclass Institute, has already pledged $3M in scholarships for members of the association, who need training in the areas of entrepreneurship, technology, agriculture and leadership/management.

Another YOA affiliate, Kaizen Consultancy, has also offered to assist young people with the process of business registration and to guide them through the legal aspects of business in Guyana. “Young people are often discouraged from getting grants and funding because of the paperwork or they just find the process tedious… the consultancy company will help with things such as GRA, NIS and business registration so that every business that comes through is compliant with the local laws,” said Lewis.

The organisation, along with its affiliates, will also provide simplified information on oil and gas to its members. The association already has a total of 53 members from different regions and five affiliates.

Going forward in its first year, the association will be open and free so that young people could benefit from the services offered. From the second year, based on operation costs, there will be a membership fee. “We have members as far as Berbice…if we have thousands of young people we will consider having arms in various regions because if we put a cap we will limit persons,” said Lewis. To become a member of the YOA, persons must be between the ages of 16 and 35 years and must have a business or a business idea.
Legal Director of the YOA, Ayodele Roache, said persons have to be 18 years old to legally own a business, but the association has their limit at 16 years old because they intend on championing the call for the law to be changed. She said there is a lot to be done, but the association will “hit the ground running” and ensure that young people start seeing the benefits soon.

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