Barbadian sisters, Chloe and Courtney Walker, winners of The University of the West Indies’ (The UWI) Open Campus and Compete Caribbean Regional Business Plan Competition. (Photo: AIG Media Group)

Barbadian sisters, Chloe and Courtney Walker, have placed first in The University of the West Indies’ (The UWI) Open Campus and Compete Caribbean Regional Business Plan Competition.

On Thursday, April 21, The UWI hosted the Virtual Award Ceremony for the Regional Business Plan Competition, which was launched on January 25, 2022, and declared them and two others as being among the winners.

According to the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal, the business plan entitled Rock Hall Freedom Walk Experience, received US$2,500 worth of technical assistance from Compete Caribbean.

Cenus Hinds, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with his web based CARIWAY, copped the second prize of US$2,000 worth of technical assistance, while third place went to Reffica Attwood, of Wallings Nature Reserve, Antigua and Barbuda, who was awarded a prize of US$1,400.

In thanking the organisers, Chloe Walker noted that the competition had been a learning experience.  She stated: “It has been incredible to have the CBT toolkit, the webinars and training sessions to help us turn an idea into a viable business.  We are very grateful to see the Freedom Walk Experience come to life.”

Second prize winner Mr. Hinds indicated to The UWI that he was very elated to have placed in the competition.  While adding that he now plans to go the extra mile with virtual reality online tours, he pointed out that the competition had helped him tremendously with advice and feedback.

Meanwhile, Ms. Attwood, noting that community tourism was driving the engine of growth in the region, said: “I am elated to represent my country and give persons in the space of Antigua and Barbuda who are making the soap, the lemongrass punch, doing massages and yoga an opportunity at livelihood.”

Director, Open Campus Country Sites, Dr. Cheryl Sloley, in her remarks, indicated that the success of the competition was an endorsement of The UWI Triple A Strategy, which espouses the three pillars of access, agility, and alignment.

 “Through this competition, we have provided accessto capacity building and technical assistance, via the far-reaching webinars, and awarding prizes specifically targeted to the wish list and business needs of top performers.

“The UWI has demonstrated its agility to move away from bureaucratic processes and traditional programme delivery to being responsive in meeting our people where they are, and lighting a path for Caribbean entrepreneurs and by the alignment of our goals to those of the people we serve and the strategic partnerships we facilitate.  The UWI continues to show our relevance and dominance worldwide,” she explained.

Productivity and Innovation Coordinator of Compete Caribbean, Wayne Elliott, stated that Compete Caribbean recognised that community-based tourism is a powerful channel for sustainable and inclusive economic development in the Caribbean, as it enables greater market opportunities for broad based local entrepreneurs, which in turn creates employment opportunities.

“Building entrepreneurship and supporting the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem are two critical challenges that need greater attention if the region is to continue to make significant strides in its pursuit of sustainable development,” he said.

Project Coordinator from The UWI Open Campus Business Development Unit, Jody-Ann Grizzle, in her presentation about the competition noted that a total of US$6,000 in technical support was shared among the top three contestants.

“One of the observations in working with Compete Caribbean and from their expertise is that an entrepreneur does not only need cash, but he/she needs the softer skills and other knowledge to move their business from one level to another, so the broad definition of technical assistance was the primary focus of the prizes,” explained Ms. Grizzle.

Technical assistance includes costs related to training and capacity building, access to incubators, study tours and technical experts to assist with further refinement, development and launch of the business.

The competition, which ran from January 25 to March 11, 2022, received business plans submissions from 22 contestants from eight Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Of the 22 contestants, there were eight males and 14 females.

The University of the West Indies

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