BARBADIAN, CHLOE Walker and her business titled Rockhall Freedom Walk Experience have won the University of the West Indies (UWI) Caribbean Regional Business Plan Competition.
During the virtual ceremony held on April 21, it was revealed that Walker will be receiving technical assistance worth $2,500.00 from Compete Caribbean. Cenus Hinds from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with his website CARIWAY won second prize worth $2,000.00 in technical assistance, while third place went to Reffica Attwood, from the reserve natural from Wallings, Antigua and Barbuda with a price of US$1,400.00, a UWI States release.
In his response, Walker thanked the organizers, UWI Open Campus and Compete Caribbean and explained that the competition was a learning experience.
“It was amazing to have the CBT toolkit, webinars and training sessions to help us turn an idea into a viable business. We are so grateful to see the Freedom Walk Experience come to life,” Walker said. .
The second winner, Cenus Hinds of CARIWAY said he was very happy to have been placed in the competition. He now plans to go further with virtual reality online tours. The contest he noted helped immensely with advice and feedback.
The third winner, Reffica Attwood from the Wallings Nature Reserve, noted that community-based tourism was driving the area’s growth. “I am thrilled to represent my country and give people in the Antigua and Barbuda space who make soap, lemongrass punch, massage and yoga an opportunity to earn a living.” she said, explaining some of the services offered at the nature reserve. Director of Open Campus Country Sites, Dr. Cheryl Sloley, in her remarks, noted that the success of this competition is an endorsement of UWI’s Triple A strategy, which embraces the three pillars of access, agility and alignment.
“Through this competition, we provided access to capacity building and technical support, through high-profile webinars and the awarding of prizes specifically targeted to the wish list and business needs of top performers. The UWI has demonstrated its agility in moving away from bureaucratic processes and traditional program delivery to being responsive in meeting our people where they are and paving the way for the Caribbean entrepreneur and aligning our goals with those of the people we serve and the strategic partnerships we facilitate, the UWI continues to show our relevance and dominance around the world,” she said.
Compete Caribbean’s Productivity and Innovation Coordinator, Wayne Elliott, said Compete Caribbean recognizes that community-based tourism is a powerful channel for sustainable and inclusive economic development in the Caribbean because it provides greater market opportunities. to broad-based local entrepreneurs who, in turn, create employment opportunities.
“Developing entrepreneurship and supporting the ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship are two critical challenges that require greater attention if the region is to continue to make meaningful progress in its pursuit of sustainable development,” said Elliott. .
UWI Open Campus Business Development Unit Project Coordinator, Jody-Ann Grizzle, in her presentation on the competition, noted that a total of $6,000 in technical assistance was shared among the top three applicants.
“One of the observations from working with Compete Caribbean and their expertise is that an entrepreneur not only needs money, but he/she needs soft skills and other knowledge to take their business to the next level. one level to another, so the broad definition of technical assistance was the main focus of the awards,” she explained.
Technical assistance includes costs related to training and capacity building, access to incubators, study tours and technical experts to help refine, grow and launch the business.
The competition, which ran from January 25 to March 11, 2022, received business plan submissions from 22 applicants from eight Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Saint -Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Of the 22 competitors, there were eight men and 14 women.
The judging panel consisted of Dr. Cheryl Sloley, Director, Open Campus Country Sites; Brian Frontin, Caribbean Tourism Organization; Richard Campbell, Organization of American States (OAS); Dr Anne Crick, Mona School of Business and Management and Courtney Lindsay of Compete Caribbean. These judges volunteered their time and expertise to review the competition rules and criteria, review and evaluate business plans and competition pitch submissions, and contribute their experience in the selection of the best candidates. .
The competition was designed to identify entrepreneurs in the sector and encourage the development of innovative, community-driven ideas with the potential to expand and scale up community businesses.