Young entrepreneurs from across region link up with mentors in Barbados
Entrepreneurs from around the region got the rare opportunity to connect with Barbadian, regional and international mentors when the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CoESL) and the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) brought the two groups together recently.
The Mentors’ Connector Event preceded a three-day Caribbean Young Leaders Entrepreneurship Boot Camp in which CoESL partnered with the Global Leadership Coalition (GLC) and A Million for A Billion (1M1B).
Some of the entrepreneurs who benefitted from the event at Bagnall Gallery, Pelican Village, were winners in the Caribbean Call to Action Entrepreneurship Challenge. They got the chance to get up close and personal with the volunteer business mentors, some of whom were selected to serve as facilitators for the weekend entrepreneurship challenge boot camp.
“We’re helping them to build positive mindsets and change their behaviour towards entrepreneurship,” said Managing Director of CoESL, Marcia Brandon.
“So we had business mentors, social mentors, and corporate mentors – mentors who help to develop leaders throughout the Caribbean.”
Mrs Brandon said the initiative was in keeping with CoESL’s focus on developing people, being a force for good, preserving the planet and helping people to create peace.
The BEF’s Anton Shepherd explained that his role was to support the mentor/entrepreneurship relationship through the use of technology.
“The Foundation provides a portal for entrepreneurs to reach out to a cadre of mentors, ask questions and get the relevant responses,” he said.
The ideas of the 26 young entrepreneurs who were brought to Barbados for the Mentors’ Connector Event and the Caribbean Young Leaders Entrepreneurship Boot Camp include: developing biological soil treatment products for the agriculture and horticulture industries; collecting, desalinating and packaging Sargassum seaweed and selling to farmers to be used as fertilizer; creating a platform for stakeholders in agriculture to come together in a single digital space; recycling electronics; a club to promote healthy lifestyles among the youth; and career counselling and guidance.
Mentor Ashley John of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who was also one of the panelists who selected the winners in the Caribbean Call to Action Entrepreneurship Challenge, said the aim was to assist the entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into real businesses.
“We’re working on helping them with the innovation, how to get their business plans put together, how to present them to investors, and also how to implement their businesses. Because at the end of the day we want to see that their businesses are actually implemented and running,” he said.
Another mentor, Reverend Ann Hamilton-Cutting of Barbados added: “I believe that we ought to help each other become the best that we can be, in terms of developing potential, and I think young people need that sense of support.”