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Photo via Young Leaders of the Americas Professional Fellows Program.

U.S. program opens for Costa Rican entrepreneurs

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Published on Thursday, May 16, 2024
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services

The application process for the Young Leaders of the Americas Professional Fellows Program, known as YLAI, is open until June 5, 2024, the U.S. Embassy announced.

The YLAI Professional Fellows Program's goal is to bring together 280 young leaders from 37 countries from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.

YLAI empowers entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, there have been over 1,750 YLAI Professional Fellows from Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. They have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and organizations across the United States.

Through the institute and individual fellowships, the program has accelerated its commercial and social ventures’ success by developing specific action plans to carry out upon return to their home countries. “YLAI Fellows built networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures,” the institute said in its statement.

The program includes a four-week professional placement in cities across the United States, YLAI Fellows gain valuable professional development skills and experience at U.S. entrepreneurial organizations from the Fellow’s business sector. Fellows will collaborate with their placement host on their Entrepreneurial Leadership Action Plan (E-LAP) which the fellows will implement upon return to their home countries.

A YLAI Entrepreneurial Leadership Curriculum. The YLAI Fellowship Program includes online and in-person coursework, developed by IREX and Arizona State University (ASU), that combines technical entrepreneurship training and leadership development. Using the E-LAP, Fellows will set and achieve their entrepreneurial leadership goals.

The YLAI Welcome Workshop in the United States. The YLAI team will meet Fellows in Houston upon arrival for a four-day welcome meeting. This meeting will be to welcome Fellows to the U.S. and give YLAI advisors and Fellows the chance to meet and go over logistics and discuss community guidelines, and program policies.

A YLAI Closing Forum in the United States. YLAI Fellows participate in the YLAI Closing Forum in Washington, D.C., as well as networking events with business and social entrepreneurial leaders, and U.S. government representatives.

Post-fellowship sustained engagement after successful completion of the Fellowship, YLAI Fellows continue their collaboration with U.S. partners and have access to ongoing professional development opportunities, mentorships, networking, and alumni activities. YLAI Fellows will have the chance to welcome a U.S. host to their country through the Outbound Exchange Program, sharing their expertise on the entrepreneurship climate in their country.

There is no fee to apply to become a YLAI Fellow. Additional information can be reached at the YLAI website.

In the previous call for the program, seven Costa Rican entrepreneurs were selected to participate in YLAI 2023. They received virtual training and will travel to the United States in May for four-week professional internships with American companies.

YLAI is one of many U.S. initiatives offered in Costa Rica. Recently, the U.S. embassy has offered scholarships for Costa Ricans to study abroad by applying for the Fulbright Humphrey Program.

What have you heard about Costa Rican entrepreneurs interested in developing business network programs in the U.S.? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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