The 2022 YLAI cohort created their own global ties through a month-long fellowship in Kansas City.

Global Ties KC has facilitated the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship in Kansas City in every iteration since 2016. Through these experiences, we have seen business contracts, sustainable partnerships, life-long mentorships, and long-lasting global relationships formed between Kansas City and the world.

According to, “[The YLAI] Fellowship Program empowers emerging entrepreneurs from the Western Hemisphere to enable the full economic potential of the region’s citizens. YLAI promotes U.S. business models, increases trade, encourages job creation, and builds lasting and sustainable networks of young entrepreneurs and business and social leaders across Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States”.

The 2022 YLAI cohort demonstrated the powerful impact which this program consistently facilitates. By staying in Kansas City for a full 4 weeks, participants truly engage with the community and fulfil business goals in partnership with Kansas City businesses. The 12 fellows from 7 different countries in the Caribbean and Latin America had a Kauffman FastTrac training, created business pitches as part of a competition of 280 individuals, toured the Nelson Atkins Museum, and ate at Betty Raes. They are forever a part of our community, as seen by Johann’s success story:

Johann Callender is the founder and owner of a BBQ manufacturer and caterer, currently located in Barbados. Due to size limitations on a small island, there is no room for cattle, thus requiring Johann to import all his meat. However, taxes and government regulations are putting his business at risk. When Johann was in Kansas City, he worked with his Fellowship Host Partner, Matthew Ziegenhorn, to visit Kansas and Missouri meat producers. Through networking and intentional outreach, Johann signed several contracts with cattle ranchers in our region, creating a mutually beneficial partnership to help with the burden of the taxes and regulations that was once hurting his business.

Johann Callendar, wearing an American flag T-shirt, stands in front of a mural.

Johann Callendar, a BBQ manufacturer and caterer from Barbados, spent June and July getting to know the food industry in Kansas City.

Johann’s story highlights only one of the international connections experienced by this cohort. Global Ties KC is welcoming back another group of entrepreneurs in January 2023. If you want to discover ways to interact with the upcoming leaders across our hemisphere, reach out to Sarah, our Special Programs Manager, at