Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

What is YLAI?

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) builds connections between young leaders across the hemisphere. YLAI addresses the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with the training, tools, networks and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the Americas.

YLAI in Louisville

YLAI is now in its second year in Louisville, KY. It has expanded from 24 fellows in its pilot program in the spring of 2016, to more than 250 in dozens of cities around the U.S.

This year ten fellows will be living in Louisville for 4 weeks through September – October as they partner with ten local businesses to exchange ideas and learn best practices. They will be in the U.S. for a six-week exchange, beginning with an orientation in Detroit, MI and culminating with the YLAI Summit in Washington, DC.

2018 Placements


Frantzia Augustin

Country: Haiti

Business: Fafa Distribution | Promotes local artisan products.

Just Creations

Just Creations

Web: Just Creations

About: Just Creations provides marketing assistance to low-income craftspeople in the developing world. The sale of these products helps to provide a fair wage for the artisans and enables them to pay for food, education, health care, and housing.


Jamellia Imani Blythe

Country: Jamaica

Business: High Flyer Educational Services | Tutoring company

Kentucky Refugee Ministries

Kentucky Refugee Ministries

Web: KY Refugee Ministries

About: Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Inc. (KRM), a non-profit organization, is dedicated to providing resettlement services to refugees through faith- and agency-based co-sponsorship in order to promote self-sufficiency and successful integration into our community.


JC Cerna

Country: Nicaragua

Business: Camas Karen S.A. | Camas Karen is a mattress manufacturing company, which provides affordable beds and mattresses to the community.

Open Grain Woodwork

Open Grain Woodwork

Web: Open Grain Woodwork

About: Open Grain Woodwork is located in Louisville, KY and specializes in handcrafted furniture, custom cabinets, and antique restoration or repair. Founded in 2007, Open Grain has grown into a company of expert craftsmen who have decades of experience to build your dream piece or repair your family’s treasured antiques.


Cristian Estrada

Country: Chile

Business: Eficagua | Develop technology to improve water retention, particularly in agriculture



Web: WaterStep

About: WaterStep’s mission is to provide safe water to communities in developing countries through empowerment, equal access and transformative hope.


Luz Gonzalez

Country: Dominican Republic

Business: Pretty Busy Club | Professional networking and development organization for female entrepreneurs

Kale & Flax (WILD)

Kale & Flax

Web: Kale & Flax – WILD Accelerator

About: A human-centered design company. Kale & Flax creates meaningful experiences driven by empathy, data and innovation. WILD Accelerator is a 9-week micro-accelerator for female founders.


Daniela Hernández

Country: Mexico

Business: Maya Bacab | Supports the Mayan community through the application of traditional honey farming techniques

Rainbow Blossom

Rainbow Blossom

Web: Rainbow Blossom

About: Louisville’s Original Natural Foods Market since 1977. Rainbow Blossom specializes in organic produce, vitamin and mineral wellness supplements and natural grocery options.


Fernando Marin

Country: Bolivia

Business: Andean Culture Distillery | the first whiskey distillery in Bolivia – aiming to use native crops and techniques

Rabbit Hole Distillery

Rabbit Hole Distillery

Web: Rabbit Hole Distillery

About: Rabbit Hole Distilling is a Kentucky-based bourbon and whiskey distiller, inspired by modern approaches to whiskey making. There’s no going back.

Oscar Matienzo

Name: Oscar Matienzo

Country: Cuba

Business: Textiles Productions PROCLE | A family business project dedicated to the manufacture and wholesale production of textile bags.

Clayton & Crume

Clayton & Crume

Host: Clayton & Crume

About: Makers of handcrafted leather goods, belts and accessories. Proudly produced in Kentucky.


Iván Darío Salamanca Dussán

Country: Colombia

Business: Integra Innovacion Agroindustrial Sustentable | Design and build machinery to help livestock farmers be more efficient and adapt to climate change. Also provides consulting services in alternative energy.


Foxhollow Farm

Foxhollow Farm

Web: Foxhollow Farm

About: Foxhollow Farm in Crestwood, Kentucky is a biodynamic farm community that offers grassfed beef, fresh produce, and hands-on learning.


Shemeon Williams

Country: Trinidad and Tobago

Business: Epsy Technical Services Limited | Repair and maintenance of medical equipment


Healthcare Asset Network

Healthcare Asset Network

Web: Healthcare Asset Network

About: Healthcare Asset Network is the easiest and most trusted way for organizations to buy and sell healthcare products at the best value.