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Empowerment through entrepreneurship

Published: 
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sandrine Isaac-Rattan is on a mission:
Project coordinator at Youth Business T&T (YBTT) Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

One of her prominent roles is as Project Co-ordinator at Youth Business T&T (YBTT) where she is in charge of communications, stakeholder and media relations at an agency responsible nurturing the business spirit among young people. But that is just one of many hats worn by Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan, who is also principal consultant at The Corporate Suite (T&T), a full-service communications and event management company; a director of the International Women’s Resource Network (IWRN) an NGO providing support services to women and girls affected by gender-based violence; and a published author.

But that’s not all. Isaac-Rattan is also host of the radio programme The Business Corner on Power 102FM. Prior to that, she produced and hosted two television programmes on CNC3, The Business Watch and Young and Upcoming.

The common thread in all these endeavours is entrepreneurship, which Isaac-Rattan considers an important tool to guide people out of poverty and low self-esteem by helping them to develop self confidence and become financially independent.

An outspoken advocate on issues relating to women, young people and families, she said she has witnessed first hand the successes of many people in previously desperate circumstances once they are mentored and guided and are then able to channel their skills and energies into profitable small and medium enterprises.

She firmly believes business ownership is not only good for the individuals but a boost for T&T, particularly with renewed focus on economic diversification.

“Running your own business gives you financial independence. You feel fulfilled. You feel motivated,” she said.

Determined not to just talk to walk but to walk it as well, Isaac-Rattan got her start along the path of coaching and mentoring in 1985 as a public relations officer at TSTT. She moved on to become a business relations officer at the Small Business Development Company where she handled public relations and event management.

Later, as communications officer with the Venture Capital Incentive Programme, she developed and implemented a successful communications and public relations portfolio for the company that yielded a marked increase in entrepreneurial activity, as well as important strategic alliance with state and private agencies.

She later took her communications savvy to the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) where she worked to strengthen the organisation’s brand locally.

Then, in September 2004, Isaac-Rattan took on a new challenge as Manager, Corporation Communications, at the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (Nedco).

She recalled: “I was put in charge of a department with seven employees responsible for public relations. Corporate communications, media relations, event management and outreach.

“I also had oversight of ten customer service representatives across the country.”

During her tenure, Nedco’s client portfolio grew from just 2,324 clients in 2004, to 9,500 clients in 2010. A series of community outreach programmes helped broaden the agency’s reach to clients in a range of sectors. Those with significant socio-economic potential were targeted for further development.

By that time, Isaac-Rattan had added to her academic qualifications, attaining a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh Business School) to follow up on the Certificate in Business Management she had earned several years earlier, in 1986, from the University of the West Indies.

She also took the time to hone her media skills and became adept at conducting radio and television interviews. Some of her most memorable were with senior officials of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the United States, the International Trade Centre in Geneva and the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

Her event planning experience was also put to use when T&T hosted the Fifth Summit of the Americas in April 2009 and a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2009.

These days, Isaac-Rattan’s focus is on nurturing the young entrepreneurs who seek support from YBTT. Services are provided to young people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to grow their own businesses.

The mandate of YBTT, which was established in 2000, has broadened over the years and in its role as local facilitator of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), the agency’s brand and reach has grown in recent years.

Strategic alliances with UK-based Youth Business International (YBI) and the Commonwealth Alliance for Youth Entrepreneurship within the Caribbean and Canada (CAYE-C&C) have further raised YBTT’s profile.

Isaac-Rattan is particularly excited about YBTT’s newest programme, Shell LiveWIRE, which gives clients access to business acceleration support through international platforms and market linkages.

Last year, three YBTT-supported entrepreneurs, Brian Benoit, Deidre Lee Kin and Maria Boneo, participated in the global Shell Top Ten Innovators Competition where Boneo won a merit prize.

Shell LiveWIRE is one of YBTT’s priority projects this year and focus is being placed on existing entrepreneurs in the areas of energy solutions, recycling and waste management and agriculture. In Tobago, the focus is on the eco-tourism and hospitality businesses.

In addition to all of these activities, Rattan-Isaac has still managed to carve out time to read for her PhD in Media and Communications. A major part of her research is on the RASIO Theory—Rejection, Abuse, Sexual Challenges, Infidelity, Insecurity and Obsession = abuse and death. This has further inspired her activism on behalf of the IWRN.

Rattan-Issac, who in 2016 authored her first book, With Women in Mind, in which she addressed a wide range of issues that affect the lives of women at personal and professional levels, is a also a motivational speaker and empowerment builder who seeks to inspire change by encouraging people to be thinkers and doers.

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