Creativity is essential for the success of any business, and a crucial element for start-ups in particular. Proprietor Urmie Persaud of Caritic Designs Co. drilled home that knowledge at a meeting hosted on Tuesday by the Chamber of Commerce-led Youth Business Trust. In her words, “There’s a lack of beauty . . . lack of appreciation for what is beautiful. We need that in life. We need to be able to see things in a different light. If you only see one thing, you’re not going to get very far.”
Her words set the tone for the meeting being convened ahead of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), an annual observance that sees 160 countries around the world coming together to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship.
At this week’s meeting, representatives from various sectors contributed their plans and ideas for Saint Lucia’s staging of GEW, after which Wilton Jeremie, Programme Officer at the Youth Business Trust, shared some of the flagship events to be hosted this year.
During GEW, observed internationally in November, thousands of students, educators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, employees, non-profit leaders and government officials participate in a range of activities including competitions, lectures, talks, youth activities, business expos, workshops, and network gatherings.
Presenters, including Camille Paul, Executive Director of the James Belgrave Micro Enterprise Fund Inc. (BELFUND), spoke this week about how their companies hoped to celebrate innovators, support start-ups, and bring new business ideas to life. BELFUND’s executive director revealed that the company intended to host a series of events including a three-day training workshop targeting aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-35. Topics on the agenda included sales and marketing, business management, and customer relations.
“We want to create the awareness that marketing starts with what people want,” Mrs Paul told the gathering, “not producing goods and services and then trying to find customers. You are the one who makes the business. Whatever you portray is what you sell. If you’re excited about your product, then it will sell. At BELFUND, we prepare you for that.”
Workshop participants would also get the opportunity to receive financing for their business idea, with support and mentorship from BELFUND.
“There’s no need for a fancy business plan, which could deter young people,” she said. “We’d rather you present, we listen, and we manipulate. We work with you. It’s a very hands-on approach.”
Up to $30,000 worth of financing is up for grabs from BELFUND to three out of the 20 participants in the workshop to be held November 15-17. The executive director noted the company had received very few internship applications in recent times, and as such, would be launching an internship programme for school leavers that it hoped would spike interest.
Several other presentations followed from representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, the Small Business Development Centre and various other sectors including arts and entertainment, and health and wellness.
President of the National Youth Council (NYC) Jeshurun Andrew, also in attendance and a young entrepreneur himself, shared that the Council would be hosting an event on November 16 with a structure similar to that of TedTalks, where young people around the island would be invited to participate. Areas to be discussed include leadership, financial management, and self-confidence. Andrew observed that lots of young people had ideas but lacked motivation. When it came to getting their own businesses off the ground, he said it was common for individuals to be demotivated by the red tape involved. His presentation fed into the reality painted by BELFUND’s representative, who’d stated earlier on that the engagement of business mentors was vital to the success of any start-up.
“If you don’t have that motivation, you’ll fall by the wayside,” she said.
Flagship events for this year’s GEW include the RBC Royal Bank Entrepreneurs Speed Networking Forum, the Fashiontrepeneur Competition, Get in the Ring (a global start-up pitch competition), and the DECA Idea Challenge – a fast-paced learning activity that challenges student teams around the globe to find an innovative new use for a commonplace item within eight days.
Global Entrepreneurship Week will be observed from November 13-19, 2017.