The idea of a Caribbean Entrepreneur Centre
Business Executives and Caribbean scholars came together on Wednesday 16th February to discuss how the Caribbean can create an ecosystem to support our returning scholars, the significance of small and medium-sized businesses, and the new, innovative initiative of a Caribbean Entrepreneur Centre. Our Chairman, Angela Lee Loy presented on the entrepreneurship panel along with Jerry Ross, President and CEO of the National Entrepreneur Centre, Tom O’Neal, Executive Director of Business Incubation Program and Dr Ricardo Neil, founder of Saint Kitts and Nevis Robotics Association. This event was part of the OECS, the Global Leadership Forum and The Confederation of Regional Business Chambers.
Supporting our Scholars
The Caribbean continues to grapple with the effects of the brain drain on our economy. Our returning scholars continue to comment on the lack of developed industries available to apply their hard-earned skills. Several suggestions came out of the session.
‘People need to be prepared to follow their passion”, Lee Loy shared. She explained that in the Caribbean, a ‘fill the gap” approach is adopted, where institutions provide funding to fill gaps in the current employment landscape. Instead, Angela urged scholars to create new industries and bring new opportunities ashore, ‘Scholars need to show the Government what we can do”.
A scholar echoed this sentiment, sharing that a ‘Think Tank” should be developed in the Caribbean, where returning scholars can work with foreign universities to research new fields for the Caribbean and be compensated. Another scholar suggested that a network be created while they are in university, to connect them with potential employers. This should be encouraged, in addition to mentorship or training to create businesses based on their degree.
Focus on Small-Businesses
Dr. Ricardo Neil, explained that small and medium-sized businesses help transform the economy. They contribute greatly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country, employment and act as the middle-men assisting larger businesses. He pointed out that because these small businesses eventually become larger businesses that they should be the primary focus. With this in mind, the goals of the prospective Caribbean Entrepreneurship centre becomes more important.
The Next Big Thing: The Caribbean Entrepreneurship Centre
Jerry Ross, President and CEO of the National Entrepreneur Centre in Florida, explained the model of collaboration that his organization induces. This hub of business resources caters to all entrepreneurs across the spectrum, from those with just ideas to fully developed businessmen with 500 employees. They provide training, advisory services, and other relevant material. This is the vision for the Caribbean Entrepreneurship Centre.
Angela Lee Loy shared that ‘Passion and Consultation’ would be needed to make this vision a reality. She recounts, ‘the biggest mistakes are the ones I made by myself’ to highlight the significance of seeking consultation to support this initiative. To the mixture of mentorship, passionate stakeholders are needed. She added that ‘positivity breeds positivity’ in organizations, a statement that should not be taken lightly.
Dr Ricardo Neil added a ‘champion for the cause’ is vital – someone always focused on the course, holding the reins straight and providing physical support.
For the future, Angela hopes that more time is spent mentoring people coming up, and creating a culture where people are encouraged in anything’.
Author: Bernice Antoine