My YLAI journey started way back in January 2018. At a business event I met Nancy Nunes (from YLAI2017)who invited me to an info session of the YLAI experience. After attending the session I knew I had to apply. I took my goal setting book and wrote the following:

“I’m so happy and grateful now that I’m selected as a YLAI fellow and finalist for 2018. I’m attending the 5 week program in the USA and I’m making the most out of it.”

For the following weeks and month I read my goals (almost) every day. I also recorded it and listen to it over and over again. In June 2018 I got an email that I was selected as a finalist. Words couldn’t express my happiness. It soon came time for me and the other YLAI fellows from Suriname to travel to the US. These were Joey Dragman, Razia Taus, Said Muntslag and Niraj Bainath.

(our arrival at Miami)

Upon our arrival in Detroit we were kindly welcomed by one of the Meridian team member. After a day of rest it was time for the YLAI launch. A packed program that went along with the networking with other YLAI fellows. Sessions to helps us grow our business.After the launch it was time for us to travel to our assigned cities. Together with 12 other fellows it was Denver Colorado for me. Also known as the mile high city. (Very beautiful city with hills and mountains around it.)

Our first week in Denver started with a BANG. Why? We had the opportunity to take part in the largest and free business event in the entire US. The entire week was filled with various business workshops that the fellows attended. We would sometime talk with multi-millionaires and not even know. All the entrepreneurs we met were open minded and gave valuable advice. A highlight for me was seeing a top business influencer, Daymond John, a few feet from me.

Some other highlights were us visiting the Rocky Mountains, the “Denver Office of Economic Development”, networking evening at the University of Denver, a meeting with Techstars, a pitch training, sales & marketing session and as lastly a talk with representatives of congress. A great thanks to our city hub, Gergana Kostadinova, and World Denver who did a great job guiding us in the process.

In Denver there were two people who made a positive impact in my life and business. The first one was my host, Toti Cadavid, a leadership and business coach. During my time in her company we took an online course. I learned how to structure my website for my business model. The second person was Irina Vlada, a leadership and personal development coach. In the two meetings I had with her I gained more clarity for my vision. Some doubts that I had were now gone.

After four weeks in Denver we traveled to Washington DC for the closing forum. All the fellows were happy to be re-united. There were so many stories with so little time. The last day of the closing forum was spent at the US State Department. There we were spoken to by the Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and other important leaders. We then had diner at the beautiful rooftop, enjoying the sunset as the YLAI experience came to an end in the US.

Looking back, I’m grateful the network I’ve got to build with the amazing entrepreneurs from across Latin America and the Caribbean. I”m also grateful the amazing team from the U.S. Department of State, the American Embassy in Suriname, Meridian International Center , World Denver and every organization in the various cities that made this experience one in a lifetime. Any YLAI alumni can now say that their life and business are not the same. We are entrepreneurs. And entrepreneurs bring solutions to the world, impacting our communities and the world!

Advice to those with a dreams: Dream big. Take action your dreams. The journey will be better than you expected.

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