Six Caribbean nationals were recognised for their contribution to advancing technology innovation in the region at the launch of the BrightPath Foundation TechLink initiative in Grenada.
BrightPath, in collaboration with its corporate partner Columbus Communications, presented 2013 TechLink Caribbean Innovators Awards in five categories to Ingrid Riley of Jamaica, Nerissa Golden of Montserrat, Deanne Scott and Teddy Frederick of Grenada, Juma Bannister of Trinidad and Tobago, and Stephen Lee, a Jamaican-born US national.
The TechLink Tech Community Service Award, which recognises individuals and organisations making a significant impact at a community level in technology advocacy, education, public awareness and innovative solution implementation, was presented to Golden for Outstanding Contribution to Caribbean Storytelling and Encouraging the Participation of Women in ICT, through her www.trulycaribbean.net web portal and entrepreneurship events.
"It feels good to be honoured for something that just became a way of life," Golden told the Guardian.
"I started with just doing this weekly letter about being a mother and just sharing what I was learning in my own process. I came online because there wasn't content about being a Caribbean mother or being an entrepreneur. That's how it started. Then it became a vehicle to promote what I was doing and connect with people whom, under normal circumstances, I would never meet. It was allowing me to create a business out of the ideas in my head. Now I recognise that we do need more people creating our own content and telling our own stories."
Golden just self-published her third book, an illustrated children's book titled Island Days.
Jamaica-born Stephen Lee, CEO of Florida-based IT consulting and services provider ArkiTechs Inc, got the TechLink Tech Diaspora Service Award for his outstanding contribution to technology training and Caribbean mobile app development.
Lee is a founding member of the Caribbean Network Operators (CaribNOG) and serves as a Telecommunications Advisor to the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU). He has also developed a suite of mobile apps to promote local content and culture.
Riley received the TechLink Game Changer's Award for Social Entrepreneurship and her contribution to transforming the region's approach to tech business startups. The founder of Connectimass, a non-profit which teaches tech entrepreneurship and innovation, called the award timely and expressed her appreciation for the recognition.
"We are about to launch Start-up Caribe which is a project to seek out and accelerate the work of 100 Caribbean start-ups and take them to the world over the next four years. We are very honoured to receive this award," Riley said.
Juma Bannister of Trinidad received the TechLink Digital Content Award, which recognises individuals and organisations that are making a significant to education and community mobilisation in the area of local content development and preservation. He was recognised for his contributions in the area of digital photography training through his Elevate Caribbean initiative.
Two Grenadians were given special TechLink Local Innovator's Award which recognises individuals showing promise or who are adopting an innovative approach to developing technology solutions that meet local needs and create global opportunities. Deanne Scott was recognised for Grassroots Innovation and her contribution to e-Health and public awareness. Teddy Frederick was awarded was for his contribution to promoting local content creation through photography.
"The TechLink Caribbean Tech Innovation Awards celebrate the many hard-working, and often unheralded, pioneers who are advancing the tech sector in the region. We believe their stories and their achievements can serve as a powerful inspiration to others in the region," explained BrightPath Executive Director Bevil Wooding during the launch.
Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice-president of sales and marketing at Columbus, said that supporting the innovative use of technology in the Caribbean has always been priority for Columbus.
"Affordable high-speed, Internet access is becoming a reality across the region. Grenada, for example, is now part of an elite group of only five countries in the Caribbean where Columbus offers 100Mb Internet service to the home. However, more has to be done to encourage the creation of Caribbean digital content. BrightPath is certainly doing its part."
As part of a wider Memorandum of Understanding, Columbus and BrightPath are rolling out the TechLink initiative throughout the Caribbean following the Grenada launch.
Head of Columbus Grenada Gail Purcell said that even though TechLink is a long-term initiative, it is already a proven success in Grenada.
"The hundred plus young persons and small business entrepreneurs who participated in today's workshops are the pioneers of a movement that is intended to span the entire region, and is part of Columbus' wider commitment to investing in development of the communities it serves."
"While Columbus provides a robust network to customers with speeds of 10 to 100 Mbps to the home people need to understand and tap into the true potential of a reliable broadband connectivity in order to maximize it usage in our daily lives. TechLink provides that opportunity" Purcell added.