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T&T innovators at Chamber’s SME conference

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Nasa scientist, an attorney with a top job at Facebook and a jazz trumpeter are among the T&T entrepreneurs who will be in the spotlight today and tomorrow when the Nova committee of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce hosts the Caribbean SME Business Conference, Innovation in Business—the Caribbean Experience, at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.


These diverse speakers, who have made their mark in global companies, well-known local brands and academia, will make presentations which will be followed by short question and answer sessions. Conference participants will then be divided into groups of 12 to 15 for the opportunity to interact more directly with the presenters who will rotate to different groups. This will allow for more direct interaction between the presenters and participants.


The target audience for the conference is owners, management and key staff of SMEs, as well as students, people considering starting a business, academics and researchers. In a release on the conference, Chamber officials said it is part of a continuing effort to “respond to the expressed needs of this important sector of the economy by way of example.”


CEO Catherine Kumar said too often the tendency is to look externally for examples of successful entrepreneurs, “not realising, or appreciating, that we have our own examples of sons and daughters of our soil, who are eminent business owners or leaders.” 



In the spotlight today will be Maxine Williams, the Global Head of Diversity at Facebook. A graduate of Yale University, Williams won a Rhodes Scholarship to study law at Oxford University. She has worked with multiple international organisations on development and human rights issues and has had a parallel career as a broadcast journalist and on-air presenter. 


Participants will also hear from Christian Stone, founder/director of More Vino, More Sushi. Originally launched as as a retail wine store in 2005, it quickly evolved into a wine bar. The More Sushi label was added in 2009. The company, with branches in Port-of-Spain and Sab Fernando, now offers 200 varieties of wines as well as a menu of sushi, salads and pastas.


The other featured innovators will be Etienne Charles, assistant professor of jazz trumpet at the Michigan State University College of Music, who has received critical acclaim for his exciting performances, thrilling compositions, and his knack for connecting with audiences worldwide.


Nigel Henry, lead analyst at Solution by Simulation, well known for his expertise in the use of agent-based modelling, neural networks, artificial intelligence, and social simulation to model economic, political and social phenomena and their application to strategic planning, will also be in the spotlight.


Tomorrrow’s session will feature presentations by Dr Camille Wardrop Alleyne, assistant programme scientist for the International Space Station at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre and business woman Antoinette Maund, owner of Ate Logo Ltd, a reputable supplier of trendy Brazilian leather shoes in the region, President of Howard University, Dr Wayne Frederick, a scholar, surgeon, researcher and respected administrator and Dr Kiran Shiva Akal, founder and president of Infinite Worlds Inc, will share the spotlight.


At this morning’s opening ceremony, Chamber president Moonilal Lalchan and chairman of the Nova committee, will give short addresses and Cecelia Greaves-Smith, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour, will speak about initiatives for SMEs.


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