THE St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce has launched the 12th edition of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2019 under the theme ‘GEW inclusion’. GEW 2019 began on Monday 18th November, and will last until Sunday 24th November. Ahead of the launch of GEW 2019, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which is a GEW Partner, hosted the 4th Annual Entrepreneurs Speed Networking Forum on Monday 18th November at Sandals Halcyon.
In attendance were various experts and professionals in the fields of banking, marketing, human resource, law, insurance and public relations among others. Approximately seventy entrepreneurs were invited to the forum and given the opportunity to engage the experts and professionals for the purpose of networking. During the forum Sandra Fontenelle, Country Manager of RBC, announced RBC’s intention to support future initiatives that give entrepreneurs access to opportunities that will prepare them for the changing world. In addition, she declared the bank’s goal to develop essential leadership academic engagements and civil skills which will better equip local entrepreneurs for lasting success. In closing, she remarked, “When you are building a start-up, it’s difficult; particularly a start-up that is expanding. You have to give 100 % and you have to be committed. Solving the problem has to be personal or else you are going to disintegrate.”
A modest presentation was made by Shondel Alexander, Managing Director of Abby’s Exotic Blends Ltd, and the 2019 winner of the Small business of the Year Award. She began by touching on the challenges she faced as a single mother at the start of her journey. Her message to the audience of entrepreneurs was that they needed to have a firmness of purpose and strength of will in order to succeed in their endeavours. Shondel recounted, “I started off by frying two dollars plantain and today we are doing 700 lbs a week.” In the spirit of encouragement, she remarked, “I would like to reach out to the young people here today who are business owners. First of all you have to be determined; you have to want it bad enough. Keep striving at what you want to do and you will make it. Giving up is not an option.”
Trinidadian businessman, Shane Spencer, Founder and Chief Investment Strategist of Island Mint Trading and Investment, was also invited to the forum. He stated, “It is such a pleasure to see that in the island of St. Lucia you guys have a very vibrant community and I encourage you to keep that up.” He emphasised that it was important for persons with foresight and vision to host events such as the Entrepreneurs Speed Networking Forum, which gives young and aspiring entrepreneurs a path upon which to accomplish their dreams and ideas.
He urged the entrepreneurs at the forum to never lose sight of whatever it was that inspired them to embark on their journeys. He said, “You need to understand why it is that you are getting up every morning to pursue whatever dream, whatever goal it is that you have in your mind. I encourage you guys to have a very clear understanding. Write it down, document it, make it plain as to what your ‘why’ is. It is the source of the energy, it is the source of sustainability that when no one else believes in you… when no one else sees the vision, that is where your self-belief, your drive and your determination is going to come from.”
Saint Lucian, Trudy Popo Leonce, Owner and Manager of Exotic Cuisine, was also in attendance at the forum. Exotic Cuisine was launched in April of 2019. The company manufactures fifteen flavours of high quality gourmet sources, which include tamarind, spicy mango and avocado. Although Exotic Cuisine is a relatively new company, its products are currently sold in Dubai, Canada and Martinique.