One of three innovation centres designed to enhance identity renewal and to generate wealth was launched on Wednesday, under the Social, Identity-Renewal and Integrated Upliftment Strategy (SIRIUS).
It is an initiative led by the Commission for Pan African Affairs (CPAA) and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth.
Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, who gave the feature address during the ceremony at the Old Spirit Bond Mall in Bridgetown, said SIRIUS represented a ???shift in focus for the CPAA???.
???This project is based on a number of things. One is innovation – the whole question of encouraging creativity and transforming how we think, while looking at some of the practices we need to change and [those] that we need to invent,??? he noted.
He said the SIRIUS project, which caters to 60 young people between the ages of 18 and 35, would be based at the Old Spirit Bond Mall, and disclosed that similar centres will be established in the north and south of the island.
Mr. Lashley outlined that the CPAA???s prime mandate is to ensure that Barbadians were aware of their shared ???rich??? African ancestry, educated about where ???we have come from as a people??? and the importance of recognising critical facets of the island???s history.
But, he pointed out that SIRIUS would go beyond this to stimulate trade and relations with the African continent and the African Diaspora. The programme will also focus on Pan Africanism; business development in potential growth areas such as Information and Communication Technology, Agriculture and the Creative Industries; proposal and grant writing; the manufacturing of cell phones and drums; health and wellness; and intellectual property rights; among other subjects.
The Culture Minister explained: ???I wanted to find some very practical ways that we could engage with Barbadians, particularly young people, and use some of those same principles and practices from our African ancestors to re-engage with our communities.
???This programme seeks to deal with some of the very pressing issues we have in Barbados today, whether they are certain isolated cases of gun violence, whether there are issues in relation to moving our country forward at the level of commerce and trade, cultural industries, [and] heritage within a world that has shifted in focus. It is certainly clear based on research and your own observation that we need to reexamine ourselves and become embolden as a people that have been given a very rich ancestry upon which to propel our own development.???
Mr. Lashley said his Ministry and the Commission looked at existing systems in Barbados to see how best they could replicate those that were effective and then implement innovation centres that would address the ???pressing issues???.
???One of the successful models that we have looked at is the Pinelands Creative Workshop??? These innovation centres will promote and develop important aspects of innovation, they will do that by encouraging existing entities to refocus themselves into creative spaces of originality,??? he said.
Moreover, the Minister stated that SIRIUS had a commercial component. He disclosed that a private sector company would be established named SIRIUS Bridgetown that would deal with export, marketing and creating youth business enterprise.
???It is not enough to train, think and mediate??? The reality is that this connects to some of the issues highlighted in the National Youth Policy. Some of the issues Barbados and young people face, [are] caught up in the whole question of identity, [and these] have to do with what the youth do with their time; how do they become productive and how do they translate their talent into earnings???
???Identity renewal, leadership and how to think innovatively are key components of the non-commercial aspects, but we want to move into the commercial aspect??? included in this is the cultural industries and how we can create export products and services which we can then convert into foreign exchange,??? Mr. Lashley said.
He added that SIRIUS was not a poverty alleviation programme, a welfare package or a workshop with a certificate that would be presented at the end.
Instead, he stressed that the aim of SIRIUS was to work with a cadre of confident and bright young persons who have the ability to develop their creative potential to the fullest.