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Pierre Hines recently won a $20,000 grant from the Atlantic Council in recognition of his remarkable nonprofit startup, Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation, which he founded to support economic development in Caribbean countries.

“‘Brain drain,’ the process by which a country loses skilled labor through emigration to developed countries, is a significant challenge for Caribbean countries. Many countries have lost more than 70 percent of their educated workforce,” Pierre explains.

For Pierre, this is a personal cause. “I am one of 1.2 million children in the United States with at least one Caribbean-born parent. My Jamaican father and his entire family immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s, and that decision is one the reasons I’ve had world-class educational and professional opportunities.”

“However,” he continues, “I understand that the migration of skilled labor creates challenges for local governments because they lose tax revenue that emigrants would have generated and human capital that emigrants would have contributed.”

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Those who return to the Caribbean with quality education from the US or other more developed countries also face challenges. He notes, “It is problematic to have persons with MBAs working as bank tellers. And, for example, I have met a promising person with a master’s degree in engineering who took a job as a locksmith upon returning to the Caribbean.”

With 3.5 million immigrants from the Caribbean living in the U.S., Pierre hopes to tap into that Caribbean diaspora to foster economic development in the region. They are working on two specific initiatives now.

First, he says, “CRN recognizes that Caribbean countries must diversify their economies—particularly because of their heavy reliance on tourism—and recognizes that creating entrepreneur opportunities is a tried-and-true method of bridging the gap between the developing and developed countries. Through the ‘Challenge Cup-Caribbean‘ and related activities, CRN is expanding opportunities for startups to seek international investments and business relationships. CRN’s entrepreneur initiative also allows those with expertise in the diaspora to participate in skills-based volunteering by mentoring startups in their area of expertise—turning the ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain.’”

“Another way that CRN is working to solve the problem is through youth empowerment initiatives. CRN formed the ‘Students for Students Initiative,’ which connects students and young professionals through social media into a support network that facilitates their professional development and enhances cultural awareness,” Pierre continued. “One of CRN’s immediate goals is to establish a physical Caribbean Coworking Campus for entrepreneurs and young people to work, connect, and learn.”

Read the full Your Mark on the World article and watch the interview here: http://bit.ly/1SxfCYt.

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Kwame Samuels was born and raised in Negril Jamaica. He currently resides in Toronto Canada where he works fulltime in the field of market research. Kwame is a avid soccer fan and listen to Roots Reggae everyday