“My son was not a drug dealer.”
These were the words of Safiya Williams yesterday as she spoke out about the death of her nine-year-old son, Cyon Paul.
The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce is extending its support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by including that group in its list of honourees in the rebranded Champions of Business, the event that replaces its Business Hall of Fame. Chamber director Jean Pierre du Coudray, who made the announcement yesterday, said two new categories have been added to the event—Emerging Entrepreneur and Internationally Known, T&T Owned.
Speaking yesterday at the news conference to announce the rebranding at the Chamber’s headquarters, Columbus Circle, Westmoorings, said these categories are now “encompassed in the brand which is now the Champions of Business”. He said the criteria for winning the award for Emerging Entrepreneur are:
• A game changer, someone who has revolutionised their industry in a substantial way that has opened the door for others in the industry
• Must have strong and noteworthy corporate social responsibility initiatives
• Must be in that particular innovative line of business no less than three years and no more than ten years
Chamber CEO Catherine Kumar said there is room for improvement when it comes to increasing the presence of SMEs in T&T’s economy. “If you look at the competitive index we don’t rank high in the entrepreneurship and innovative area and it requires someone to take risks. There are all sorts of reasons as to why we are so risk adverse. Is it because we can’t get financing? We need to encourage more persons in T&T to take that step, to that risk, not to constantly be looking for a job,” she said.
Kumar said the Chamber has been working with the Ministry of Planning to put mentorship programmes in place and implement incubator-type models. “We’re certainly not at the top as far as entrepreneurs in T&T but we continue to aspire, we continue to do whatever we can to push the idea behind it. This as a whole would be one step in the right direction when the young entrepreneurs come forward.” she said.