INVEST Saint Lucia (ISL) hosted a major event, dubbed “Saint Lucia Entrepreneurship Meetup 2019”, on Monday, September 2, targeting business people, motivated creators and dreamers.
The event held under the theme “Doing What You Love and Being Successful Doing It: Ingredients for Success”, was held at the Pink Papaya Restaurant in Pointe Seraphine.
Project Coordinator at Invest Saint Lucia, Dave Headley in his welcome remarks explained that the Meetup formed part of a wider sensitization campaign ISL is embarking on to stir up entrepreneurship on the island.
The panel discussion included contributions from three of Saint Lucia’s most dynamic and inspiring entrepreneurs, namely Nydia Norville (Choiselle), Henson Hunte (Fun Foods – Island Pops), and Ian Mitchell (eMagine Solutions). The moderator was Pauline Francis, Miss Massy Stores 2018.
During the nearly two-hour-long panel discussion, the moderator posed questions to the panelists related to their personal journeys as entrepreneurs. They spoke about the difficulties they faced setting up their businesses as well as the challenges they still encounter staying relevant and profitable.
Over 140 patrons attended the meetup, many of them posing questions to the panelists and inquiring how agencies like Invest Saint Lucia can assist them in setting up their businesses.
Fostering greater entrepreneurship via effective nurturing, mentorship and direct access to key markets forms a critical part of Invest Saint Lucia’s mandate. To that end, ISL continues to seek new and innovative ways in which entrepreneurs can equip themselves with the tools that can result in the overall growth and success of their respective businesses.
The Saint Lucia Entrepreneurship Meetup 2019 is a precursor to a broader programme currently being finalised by ISL, namely the Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme, which is expected to be launched by December this year.
On July 9 this year, representatives from several local government agencies, banking officials, young entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders met at Coco Palm Resort in Rodney Bay to further concretize the Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme. At that meeting, stakeholders agreed upon the ideal framework to guide entrepreneurs seeking to establish successful businesses in the near future. Discussions were led by the international consultants on the project, CREEDA Projects, headed by Julian Webb and Thea Chase.
“There needs to be a deliberate attempt to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and continuous improvement among our youth and wider society towards sustainable growth,” Minister for Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, Bradly Felix, stated at that meeting.
Minister Felix added that entrepreneurship is a crucial factor to the global economy, contributing to growth, economic development and job creation. Through ISL, he said, Government will continue to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem through the introduction of the Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme.
Meanwhile, ISL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Roderick Cherry, notes that ISL eagerly anticipates the introduction of the Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme which, he believes, will stimulate the local economy, encourage inclusive economic growth, improve on sectoral linkages in the local economy and scale-up or assist in the internationalization of local businesses.
“The Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme will provide start-ups and existing small businesses with a variety of business support services to further improve business operations,” Cherry said.
Based on feedback from initial focus groups with various entrepreneurs, ISL realized that the networking among entrepreneurs at the sessions was very organic.
“We believe that the Entrepreneurship Meetup is timely as we plan to launch the logo and name contest for the programme,” Cherry added. “We also want to spark the entrepreneurship and innovative thinking of Saint Lucian youth.”
Monday’s Meetup ended with an ice-breaker networking activity, namely a Bingo, where three winners were presented with prizes.
According to Headley, similar meetups will be hosted by Invest Saint Lucia over the ensuing months.