There was a strong presence of youth entrepreneurship at the 2016 Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture awards last Saturday. How ironic, amidst all of the financial turmoil that Saint Lucia is facing, with a staggering debt to GDP ratio not to mention debilitating unemployment above 23%. Although missing this year was the natural wit of former host Richard Peterkin, this year’s event was hosted by young media personalities Masana Morrison of the Wave and Shayne Ross of Radio Saint Lucia. Among their more memorable shots was one fired at UWP leader Allen Chastanet in absentia, “. . . since he is still looking for a seat.” Then there was their line about the prime minister’s “single most remarkable achievement – his appointment of Dame Pearlette Louisy as Governor General. They don’t come more loaded than that!
Milestones, as outlined by outgoing Chamber president Gordon Charles, included the new Banking Act, the Citizen by Investment Act and “less exotic developments like the increase in local chicken quotas.” As for the awards themselves, twelve were presented including the Lifetime Achievement Award to Sir Julian Hunte. And for what was supposed to be a black tie affair, you would think that there were already enough of those on the night – ties I mean! The Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award was shared by Mandisa Morrison of Shoe Rehab and Keran Rosemond of the somewhat suggestively named Ali Rose Virgin Coconut Oil.
Juliana Destang of Splash Island Water Park and Taribba do Nascimento of Meme Bete Bags were the other double for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Dale “Untold Stories” Elliot of the Independent Film Company won the Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation, controversially awarded to ‘now you see him, now you don’t’ George Benson two years earlier – not the jazz musician mind you! The Business of the Year and the Excellence in Human Resource Development Awards both went to Sandals Resorts International. Baron Foods also copped two: Goods Exporter of the Year and Corporate Leadership, collected by CEO Ronald Ramjattan.
Bay Gardens Resorts walked away with the award for Marketing Excellence; Lucelec for Corporate Social Responsibility; and BitbyBit and Associates for Idea of the Year. The Investor of the Year Award, presented by Invest St. Lucia, went to Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort. The Office of the Prime Minister and Invest St. Lucia sponsored the Business Awards while Cable and Wireless Business was the Red Carpet Sponsor. Peter and Company Distribution sponsored the usual lavish after-party which ended the event on a high.