Barbados’ U.S. Embassy singled out for its support of local entrepreneurship drives

The United States Embassy has been singled out for praise for its support of local entrepreneurship initiatives.

Speaking at an awards ceremony on Thursday for winners of the Embassy’s youth business plan competition, Director of the University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill School of Business (CHSB), Dr. Jeanine Comma congratulated the Embassy “for the number of initiatives in supporting entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Comma highlighted the role entrepreneurial activity can play in stimulating Barbados’ economy stating, “We recognize that if the economy is to grow, then we have to support entrepreneurship and the U.S. Embassy has to take a lot of kudos for that.”

CHSB was one of the partners in the Embassy’s business plan competition, along with the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT).

Charge D’Affaires Dr. Brent Hardt (left) presenting winner Jason Blounte (right) with his cheque.

Charge D’Affaires Dr. Brent Hardt (left) presenting winner Jason Blounte (right) with his cheque.

BYBT’s Executive Director Marcia Brandon noted that with “the routes of normal career options closing fast” due to the ongoing global recession, that the Trust has been witnessing “a change in mindset” towards entrepreneurship.

She too praised the Embassy for their initiative saying, “Business plan competitions such as this are an excellent way of stimulating that change in mindset.”

U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Dr. Brent Hardt said that the award ceremony was “but one example of our ongoing efforts to support hard working young people with the ideas, talent and tenacity to make their dreams come true.”

He also outlined other initiatives which the Embassy has been pursuing in support of entrepreneurship and business development: “Our USAID office will also be funding a program in partnership with the Cave Hill School of Business to support workforce development and entrepreneurship. This program is valued at $1.5 million USD. USAID also recently signed a $1.8 million agreement with the Academy for Educational Development to support in-school business training and youth microenterprise development in Barbados and the OECS countries,” stated Chargé Hardt.

Jason Blounte’s community-based micro waste management and recycling project, “Waste Diversion Services,” was the overall winner of the competition, securing a business start-up scholarship of Bds $2,000.

Charge D’Affaires Dr. Brenth Hardt presenting Zandre Bowen with his certificate.

Charge D’Affaires Dr. Brenth Hardt presenting Zandre Bowen with his certificate.

Zandre Bowen placed second, winning a Bds $1,500 business startup scholarship. His project “Las Barbadas” offers a gaming experience service for hotels, where guests pay a flat entry fee to play casino games like blackjack and roulette without actually gambling. Guests play with special Las Barbadas money which can then be used at the end of the night to bid in an auction of sponsor-provided items.

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