The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) celebrated its 50th anniversary by showcasing one of its most successful projects promoting economic opportunities for underserved youth. Attended by IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno, the pre-assembly event highlighted entra21, a signature program of the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF). In its first phase, the program provided IT and employability training and job placement assistance to nearly 20,000 young people across Latin America and the Caribbean, placing more than half of them in jobs.

“Nearly half of the people in this region are under 30 years of age, and far too many of them can’t find jobs,” says William S. Reese, President and CEO of IYF. “With critical support from IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) over the years, the strong leadership of President Moreno, and committed NGO partners like Comfenalco Antioquia, we’ve helped thousands of these youth not only find a jobbut create a better life for themselves and their communities." Also participating in the event was Cesar Castro, Nokia’s director for Colombia and Ecuador, along with other business leaders—underscoring the importance of private sector involvement to ensure that youth are well trained and fully prepared to enter the world of work.

At a graduation ceremony taking place in a formerly violent neighborhood that has undergone a radical transformation, President Moreno awarded 30 entra21 participants with scholarships to receive leadership training by the IDB’s training center INDES. In return, the graduates presented the President with an album of photographs and testimonials as well as a plaque with the inscription: “Investing in young people pays off.” Known as Jovenes con Futuro in Medellín, the current phase of entra21 is supported by the Office of the Mayor, The Chamber of Commerce, and local companies.

The entra21 program has grown steadily since 2001—with total investments of US$78 million in nearly 50 projects across Latin America and the Caribbean. In Phase II of the program, 14 projects are underway to date, bringing to 62,000 the total number of youth receiving entra21’s comprehensive package of IT skills, life and employability training, and job placement services. The IDB is the leading source of long-term financing for development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, supporting a broad range of programs designed to address key economic problems affecting the region.