Young Leaders of America Initiative

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) is a professional fellows program that empowers entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders to strengthen capacity and advance their entrepreneurial ideas to contribute to social and economic development in their communities and region.

Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, more than 750 YLAI professional fellows from Latin America, Caribbean, and Canada have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience through fellowships at businesses and organizations across the United States. Through the YLAI Entrepreneurship Institute and the individualized fellowships, YLAI fellows have accelerated their commercial and social ventures’ success and developed specific action plans to carry out upon return their home countries. YLAI fellows built networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures.

For more information about YLAI, visit the YLAI website or email International Exchange Programs Coordinator Kevin Sung at

Upcoming YLAI events

“Bitter Seed”: A webinar on the artisanal coffee farmer’s reality in Guatemala

2021 Young Leaders of the Americas (YLAI) Fellowship Collaboration Program

Northern Nevada International Center and Guatemalan coffee entrepreneur and 2021 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Reno fellow Byron Cap at KAPEH CHIALLI are hosting a virtual cultural event on November 19th. Attendants will learn about Guatemala in general that includes places of interest, culture of the Mayas, and coffee business and industry. Byron will join live from Guatemala to introduce a brief history of the Mayas in the area of Tactic, where KAPEH CHIALLI's coffee is currently being processed.

In the first part, history, language, clothing, costumes, religion and culture will be covered. Local artisans will explain their work and the difficulties they go through to make a market for themselves while competing with big corporations. Later, the event will feature agriculture in Guatemala that will lead to the talk about coffee. Guatemalan coffee has been exported to many countries all over the world, however, only those with pre-existing opportunities are able to succeed in the business. Small coffee farmers are usually obligated to sell their coffee before processing it since financial need becomes a barrier to be able to obtain a license to export. A big institution in charge of extending licenses makes it difficult for local small farmers to get into this exporting business. We will have a quick video to process coffee starting from picking to roasting in a round metal sheet and grinding by hand in a grinding stone, the way our Mayan ancestors used to do so.

*Attendees will receive a free one-pound bag of KAPEH CHIALLI coffee beans! The coffee bean incentive is redeemable in Reno, NV via personal pick-up free of charge. Shipping is not available.

Dates and times

Session 1: Friday, November 19, 2021 at 9am PST

Register for Session 1 

Session 2: Friday, November 19, 2021 at 6pm PST

Register for Session 2


YLAI Fellowship Collaboration Program, Byron Cap and KAPEH CHIALLI

YLAI is the U.S. Department of State’s flagship program for emerging entrepreneurs and innovative civil society leaders from Latin American, the Caribbean, and Canada. YLAI strengthens the fellow’s capacity and advances their entrepreneurial ideas to contribute to social and economic development in their communities and region. The YLAI Fellowship Collaboration Program is a component of YLAI fellowship program that supports the continued partnership among the network of YLAI alumni and U.S. partners for continued professional collaboration.

Byron Cap is a Reno YLAI fellow in 2021. As a CEO of KAPEH CHIALLI, Byron is committed to supporting local farmers and the economic development of communities. Coffee professionals rank KAPEH CHIALLI’s coffee as phenomenal. Byron and his family produce some of the best coffee in Guatemala!

*Collaboration Grant is awarded through the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship, a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the United States Department of State and implemented by IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board). The views expressed are the webinar organizer’s own and do not represent the YLAI Fellowship Program, the U.S. Department of State, or IREX.

2021 virtual YLAI Professional Fellows Program

In 2021, the YLAI Professional Fellows Program was structured to take place virtually due to the global pandemic. From January to April, 2021, 11 fellows from 10 countries including Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and St. Kitts and Nevis virtually visited Reno for their professional fellowship. NNIC participated in the YLAI Professional Fellows Program as a Cohort Ambassador to support their professional development and foster cross-cultural understanding.

A group of 11 students gathered on a Zoom call.