ST. EUSTATIUS–This week, a two-day workshop to introduce the Kidpreneur programme on St. Eustatius took place at Golden Era hotel on Lower Town. The workshops were facilitated by Portia Harrigan and Shanique Thompkins from e-Camps BVI.
The prospect of encouraging youth on a small Caribbean island to start a business in a world that revolves around global economic trade might seem impossible. But according to Teresa Leslie and Eastern Caribbean Public Health Foundation, the possibilities for sustainable entrepreneurship are endless.
“Statia has a wealth of human talent and skills that can be harnessed to drive a local economy forward,” she said during the workshop. “Doing nothing is not an option.”
However, there are barriers. A lack of communication skills and a forward-looking mind set, and a brain drain of young educated youth away from the island were just a few of the major obstacles.
For these reasons and more, the European Union has set up an organization to promote an entrepreneurial spirit for European Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT’s).
Samuel Kruiner is a private sector development expert for Europe’s COSME programme for small and medium-sized enterprises based in Tortola. The programme’s objective is to encourage the emergence of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Europe has set aside a fund of 15 million euros to support governments in enabling an environment for SME’s to flourish,” he said.
In addition the programme also focuses on direct support to SMEs and business-support organisations, as well as regional integration.
“St. Eustatius is one of the major benefactors of this programme that also includes Curaçao, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Saba, St. Barths, Montserrat, Bonaire, St. Maarten, Aruba, and the Cayman Islands.
“Our approach is to support young entrepreneurs by equipping them with basic marketing tools and in some cases, provide start-up funds to turn vision into reality. This project is nearing completion and our message to Brussels is that further expansion of our work is not only necessary but vital for expansion of our activities in the region.”
Former Director of Economy and Infrastructure Roy Hooker has done much to promote the entrepreneurial spirit on Statia. “Our grandfathers were excellent tradesmen. Statia yam was famous on Curaçao and Aruba, Statia meat and fish once graced the top dinner tables of the neighbouring islands of Saba, St. Maarten and St. Kitts. We have inherited that same spirit on Statia, although we have to learn how to do things in a modern way. A simple business plan is always a good place to start. Getting things down on paper kicks off the creative process, and with a little web wisdom the cost of marketing can be microscopic.”
However, he is not “hooked” on imported souvenirs that cater to the tourism industry, said Hooker. “We have great craftsmanship skills for locally made products on the island, many of which can be made from recycled materials. Our young entrepreneurs will find plenty of scope for creative expression and they deserve to be encouraged.”
Leslie agrees. “Our Statia supermarkets are crammed with expensive and not very fresh produce that arrive in shipping containers. This refrigerated cargo spends many days on sea. All the while we can produce more nourishing fish, meat and vegetables from our island, soil and waters. If St. Kitts can harvest the bounty of local nature and become self-reliant so can we. Food is only one sector that can profit from the business of local business. It is time to think out of the box and make local products and services that convey added value. The web can provide an instant international market for Coralita tea, honey, postcards and conference facilities, just to mention a few ideas. It all starts with an idea and that inspiration needs aspiration,” she said.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/67110-ideas-for-the-future-at-kidpreneur-workshop