Wednesday 19 February, 2020

Local, regional entrepreneurs challenged to make communities better

-by Daveny Ellis 

The local and regional winners of the Caribbean Technical Entrepreneurship Program received their awards at a special closing ceremony held at the Accra Beach Hotel in Christ Church recently.

Funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the virtual incubator and accelerator four-month program with 90 start-ups, was a competition throughout the CDB's 19 Borrowing Member Countries.

After five months of intensive learning, 225 aspiring entrepreneurs completed the first aspect of the program, eventually narrowing the field to 9 teams from across the region.

The winning enterprises included an entertainment-booking app, a virtual platform that allows a person with disabilities to meaningfully contribute to the workforce and a virtual reality experience center.

The nine entities are spread across a range of industries including tourism, education, and fintech financing.

The entrepreneurs participated in capacity-building workshops while receiving critical mentorship support; and in the latter stages of the program, the most promising participants competed for cash and business support prizes.

Speaking at the event, Daniel Best, Director Projects Department at the CDB said he was pleased with the entrepreneurs that were a part of the program and challenged them going forward.

"I want to challenge the entrepreneurs present here today to fully exploit the opportunity afforded by participation in this program and to recognize that it is accompanied by a collective responsibility not only to make your businesses better but your communities."

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Esworth Reid, spoke on the importance of entrepreneurship as well as some of the ways in which the Government assists with the challenges of small and micro business in Barbados

"We have seen the need to allow micro and small business easy access for financing and we have created special financial institutions like Fund Access and Enterprise Growth Fund that offers soft loans up to $200,000 to this special group. This was found necessary to assist those aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs who would have been seen by regular commercial banks as high risk and as potential bad debt."

First-place winners in each section were: La Quelle's Agrozee Company Limited from Trinidad and Tobago in the Ideation Section, The Guyana Animation Network (GAN) Inc. in the Validation section and Sandy's Bath and Organics out of Trinidad and Tobago in the Scale-Up Section.

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