MARIGOT–Initiatives St. Martin Active held an awards ceremony for its fourth annual Innovation Competition at Fort Louis Yacht Club on Monday evening.
The competition provides incentive to young dynamic entrepreneurs to come up with innovative ideas for a business to help stimulate the economy in St. Martin. This year 13 projects were submitted, and eight retained by the jury.
The awards ceremony revealed the top three winners. The first-place prize of 3,000 euros donated by Caisse des Depots et Consignations went to Sébastien Meygret for his agriculture project of extracting the pearls from conch to create a business of producing pearls for accessories or fashion items using eco-responsible techniques.
“It’s a project we started five years ago in Honduras to produce conch pearls and we want to continue in St. Martin,” explained Meygret. “The technique is aqua culture, raising the conch in tanks. We have to develop our own feeding programme and do surgery on them to ensure a pearl is produced every time. There’s a very good market in these kinds of pearls as nobody does it in aqua culture. They sell well but the production is more difficult.”
The prize of 2,000 euros donated by Crédit Mutuel went to Laurina Algain-Gombs for her project Cosy Desk. This project proposes a co-working café, a shared workplace in an open-space that offers comfort to isolated self-employed workers present on the island. It will welcome entrepreneurs, associations, employees, and high school students.
The space will create professional opportunities while promoting structure and a real network of co-workers facilitating exchange, cooperation and creativity. It also offers a cultural dimension as a venue to book and promote St. Martin talent and organise cultural events, artistic, private or public, et cetera.
The third prize of 1,000 euros donated by Dauphin Telecom was awarded to Loïc Nirennold and Frédérick Ymanette-Cocks for their project Business 365.net. This is a website, a web directory, marketplace and a social network. The platform is based on an advanced web directory coupled with socialisation modules.
Examples: discount coupons module, accessible to all companies that want to create their own coupons; events module to create and promote your event independently. Business 365.net is an online meeting point for companies who wish to do business, to know their customers and who are looking for products and/or services.
In addition, the three winners can be eligible for a loan of up to 50,000 euros at zero interest to start their businesses. If granted the loan, Initiatives St. Martin is obligated to follow their progress for three to five years.
The jury was composed of seven persons, all professionals from civil society. They included Port of St. Martin Director Albéric Ellis, international commerce specialist Audrey Barbes, tourism professional Florence Bernard, banking advisor Laetitia Ralmall, Loïc Lagoutte from IOTV, Malaïka Maxwell from the Chamber of Commerce and Employment Office counsellor Rosealie Vallet-Wade.
The other five projects receiving an honourable mention were
www.animatrice-evenementielle.com, Ruehouse Coworking, Theopra, Kids Central Park, and Winner Mentality 97.
Introductory remarks were made by President of Initiatives St. Martin Active Jean-Paul Fischer, Director Sabrina Rivere, and the financial partners. Emcees for the ceremony were Laila Freedom and Rachelle Chilin.