MORE and more St Lucians are getting all fired up by the idea of starting their own business, more so the youths. Many budding young entrepreneurs are taking the bold step of launching their own commercial ventures.
This trend is evident all throughout the Caribbean, so much so that the region’s governments and policymakers have been busy trying to figure out how to go about developing strategies to propel youth entrepreneurship in the Caribbean.
It is clear to all the various stakeholders what the most pressing needs are increased entrepreneurship education and skills development for aspiring entrepreneurs, the facilitation of technology exchange and innovation, access to affordable business premises and improved access to innovative, non-traditional financing options.
The recent announcement by Invest Saint Lucia (ISL) that it is rolling out a Business Incubator and Accelerator Program designed to provide advisory and support services to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and fledging start-ups is definitely a step in the right direction.
ISL says it intends to use the programme to help strengthen and sustain those businesses and help them gain direct access to external markets, adding that it’s all part of their mission to promote a business environment that encourages and nurtures local entrepreneurship.
Throughout the world business incubator and acceleration programmes have been acknowledged as one of the principal means of revitalizing and expanding domestic economies because of their ability to produce successful and financially viable new micro and small businesses that can survive on their own.
It’s not unusual for start-ups and aspiring entrepreneurs to feel unsure how to go about running a business or to be daunted by the prospect of dealing with restricted financing and having to source products and services. Invest Saint Lucia’s Business Incubator and Accelerator Program has the potential to make things a lot easier for the owners of such ventures by providing them with support and advice on the best ways to grow their business so that they become sustainable and profitable. It can also teach entrepreneurial hopefuls how to overcome the various hurdles they may be encountering.
There is no denying that small, micro and medium-sized businesses have the capacity to create new jobs and reduce poverty, as well as increase the vitality of the economy.
There is no need to look further for evidence of this than Algas Organics, a local company that converts Sargassum Seaweed into organic fertilizer. It is owned by young St. Lucian entrepreneur, Johanan Dujon. Likewise, Eze Green, a local start-up that processes waste cooking oil and turns it into biodiesel. The company also uses the by-product of this process to make dishwashing detergent. It’s currently making waves, both locally and regionally. Eze Green was founded by Patrick Eze, another young St Lucia entrepreneur.
EcoCarib Inc. is another St. Lucian company that is making a name for itself in the regional economic space. Founded in 2014, EcoCarib is the brainchild of two talented young St Lucians, Denell Florius and Zaina Pamphile. It’s a green technology services company that specializes in solar renewable energy. Florius and Pamphile have over 10 years of experience in the fields of renewable energy technologies and finance.
All three companies are not just helping to grow St Lucia’s economy; they are also showing the world that St Lucia can make a big difference in the global push towards the utilization of renewable green energy. They’re also helping to mitigate the effects of climate change in the region. They are just a handful of a slew of St Lucian small-business start-ups that have mushroomed into successful businesses in recent years with mentorship and support from Invest Saint Lucia and several other organizations, including the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber hosts the local leg of ‘Get in the Ring,’ a competition designed to showcase the innovativeness and economic viability of business start-up by young St Lucian entrepreneurs. It also gives the winners the opportunity to introduce their businesses to international investors. Saint Lucia Junior Achievement and the Saint Lucia Youth Business Trust are cosponsors of the competition.
St Lucia can no longer afford to continue putting off the creation of a viable national strategy to promote smaller businesses as a way of rectifying the deficiencies of the past, and creating an environment of economic and social inclusion.
Economic development will achieve nothing unless we work to create a truly inclusive economy, one in which businesses of all sizes and capacities can contribute to St Lucia’s development and progress.