Outgoing Coordinator of the Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI), John Wopereis uttered these words as he leaves the young organisation he was tasked to launch and manage since been recruited by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) in May 2018.
YECSI is a Private-Public Partnership (PPP) between SICCI and the Government through the Ministry of Women, Youth and Children Affairs (MWYCA). It was established to represent interests of current and aspiring young entrepreneurs in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Wopereis’ time with YECSI ends this week after one year and eight months implementing the organisation’s mandate to encourage and empower young Solomon Islanders to become successful entrepreneurs.
As YECSI Coordinator, Mr Wopereis’ role was to help drive a reform agenda aimed at unlocking legislative and policy constraints that are holding back opportunities for young Solomon Islanders.
Under his leadership, YECSI also facilitated support services undertaking mentoring and coaching, business planning and targeted business training to young entrepreneurs.
“I have been a part of YECSI from the very start in May 2018 taking the lead in launching the organisation and building its value-adding services and membership numbers, from the ground up.
“It has been an amazing, and fulfilling experience working with YECSI as well as SICCI ensuring young entrepreneurs have a representative body, a voice and a community of like-minded peers and supporters, to draw on. I have learnt a lot and have honestly enjoyed every single moment in my role as the Coordinator of YECSI,” Mr Wopereis said.
He says that there is no denying the fact that unemployment is an issue of concern for the country combined with the fact that the country’s youth constitute a high percentage of that.
“Young people struggle to find jobs and according to official figures 17,000 to 18,000 people seek jobs each year however compared to only around 4000 jobs available.”
Mr Wopereis acknowledge that YECSI is a good example of an innovative platform for our young, talented and aspiring entrepreneurs to access.
“YECSI is a platform that can be used to transform innovative ideas into successful business opportunities while in turn create needed jobs going into the future.”
“I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to be part of this organisation, YECSI, and contribute to the development of our young people in business and youths as a whole,” he said.
“In reality, we the youths, we are the majority; we are capable of doing good things that can have a big positive effect on this country. We are the risk takers, the innovators, we have the energy to affect change and we have more time. All we need is the right platform and support and SICCI through YECSI provides that platform and support,” he added.
As a parting encouragement, Mr Wopereis calls on young people involved in or running their own business to sign up and become a member of YECSI.
“YECSI is a national organization, so it is your voice talking to stakeholders about the challenges you face and advocate on your behalf for a better business environment,” he said.
Meanwhile, YECSI Chairlady and a young entrepreneur herself, Ms Millicent Barty thanked Mr Wopereis for his contributions and commitment over the past twenty (20) months.
“John [Wopereis] has been outstanding and a true asset to our organisation in successfully coordinating the launch and activities of YECSI since Oct 2018.”
“We are a fresh young organisation and with John leading the organisation as Coordinator, we achieved a 95% success rate in executing activities as in the YECSI 2019 ‘Iumi Duim’ Business Plan.
“On behalf of our YECSI Board, I sincerely would like to thank John for playing a crucial role in YECSI’s initiation and growth in the past year. He will be missed in our energetic and dynamic YECSI team and family but we are incredibly pleased to have been a platform for his professional development and wish him all the best in his next endeavour,” Ms Barty said.
YECSI Vice Chair, Chrisnrita Aumanu Leong also endorsed John’s performance.
“John leaves behind a solid foundation and a high benchmark. We welcome this week too his successor Emmanuel Pitakaka who we are confident will continue to build on the momentum to deliver our services and grow our membership,”.
Mr Wopereis hails from Vella la Vela island in the Western Province and he is part New Zealand. He joined YECSI after graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.
He is being replaced by Mr Emmanuel Pitakaka, who is a recent graduate from the University of Waikato in New Zealand with a Bachelor of Laws. Mr Pitakaka is passionate about supporting young entrepreneurs to grow and contribute to the socio-economic development of Solomon Islands. Mr Pitakaka looks forward to continuing the great work and is keen to explore new opportunities to further the interests of YECSI members and supporters.