Who says we have to look to Silicon Valley in the US as the sole haven of creative start-ups? We simply need to look in our own backyards. This came across loud and clear at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Silicon Valley.
As US Secretary of State John Kerry noted, "In our era, everybody here understands that new ideas can evolve anywhere, at any time. And they can have an impact anywhere. In my travels as secretary, I have been absolutely amazed by the ground-breaking designs I've seen, by the ideas being brought to life everywhere–sometimes where you least expect it."
At the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama, more than 700 entrepreneurs witnessed the power of the Caribbean as Kenia Mattis of Jamaica won US$15,000 in the Spark the Fire pitch competition for her literacy start-up ListenMi.
Mattis is one of a growth-oriented group of entrepreneurs who are taking part in the eight-month Women Innovators in the Caribbean Acceleration Programme (WINCAP) in T&T and 11 other Caribbean territories. The programme is partially funded by the Government of Canada and the World Bank.
Fourteen other Trinbagonian entrepreneurs have committed to their business and personal development by participating in the WINCAP. They are:
�2 Danielle Small–The Business Boutique
�2 Essenese Sambury–Hair for Divas and Caribbean School of Cosmetology
�2 Gillian Bellamy–Maracas Business Center
�2 Janine Mendez Franco–The New Cheeze
�2 Laci Joseph–Just Bee You! Beauty Products
�2 Lavaughn Marin–Marin Engineering Services Ltd
�2 Leesa Ann Reize–Perfect Peppers
�2 Melissa Williams–Creative-roomz Wholesale Trading
�2 Mweia Elias–Empower Nutrition Ltd
�2 Rebecca Cockburn–RMC Language Consultancy
�2 Romain Hepburn–L'Image Parfaite Clinique De Beaute Ltd
�2 Sarah Lezama–Lezara Consultancy Services
�2 Sueann Ramsingh–Inspired Technologies Ltd
�2 Zakiya Mills-Francois–ZM Image Consultants Ltd.
This group of powerful entrepreneurs is being guided by infoDev-certified AP Facilitators Glenda Joseph Dennis, managing director of Carific Ltd and Georgina Terry, The Passions to Profitability Expert and managing director of BPD Associates Ltd. Glenda and Georgina are themselves entrepreneurs with more than 40 years of combined experience so they understand the journey undertaken by the WINCAP participants.
The WINC Accelerator Programme in T&T (WINCAP TT) supports these growth-oriented entrepreneurs with methods, tools, access to appropriate expertise and mentoring so that they may innovate within their businesses, improve their competitiveness and grow substantially. Engaged in the programme since March, these entrepreneurs are already showing evidence of leveraging networks, growing their market share and increasing their use of technology. One recently secured a deal with Whole Foods in the US.
"When I decided to work for myself, it did not dawn on me that I would also be working by myself for a long period of time...This group, apart from being an invaluable resource of training and expertise, has also afforded me the opportunity to learn from and form friendships with women who are like-minded and equally passionate about life, business and the impact we want to make in this world.
"I've learned and implemented so much already in my business, such as streamlining my marketing strategy and how to network wherever I go on a daily basis. I look forward to greater success in business on completing the WINC programme." Laci Joseph, Just Bee You! Beauty Products.
"The programme is designed to stretch and strengthen the participants to enable them to enjoy functioning outside of their comfort zone. The group has set themselves some stretching goals and they have the power and determination to achieve this," says Georgina Terry.
WINCAP TT is supported by a distinguished cadre of local and international mentors. "We have received great support from highly successful male and female entrepreneurs dedicated to mentoring the participants to achieve accelerated and sustained growth both personally and for their businesses," says Glenda Joseph Dennis.
The businesses range from food catering, agro processing, ICT, engineering, arts and entertainment, beauty and cosmetology, clothing and accessories, to consulting, nutrition, language and cultural training, and are located on both islands.