Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Patrick McCaskie presenting Jermaine Henry of Jamaica with his prize for finishing first in the validation phase of CTEP Cohort 1. (CTEP/GP)

Winners of the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Programme (CTEP) Cohort I have been told they represent a major pillar of growth, particularly at this time, where the Caribbean region has low levels of growth.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Patrick McCaskie, conveyed this message today, on behalf of Commerce Minister, Dwight Sutherland, when he addressed the closing ceremony for the first cohort of CTEP 2018-2019.

The event, held at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Wildey, St. Michael, celebrated nine outstanding entrepreneurs from across the region, including Barbados. 

Commending the young entrepreneurs, Mr. McCaskie noted that the culmination of the programme was but the first step in positioning them “to attract new opportunities for business, find creative solutions for regional challenges, build new industries, and engender a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation” among their peers. 

He said: “As some of the region’s forward-thinking entrepreneurs, you are well on your way to becoming future trailblazers, future pioneers, future business leaders and the next influential pathfinders.”

The Permanent Secretary added: “Step by step, through strategic partnerships and programmes such as CTEP, which creates safe spaces for innovation, encourages reaching beyond your imagination, and challenges the existing paradigm, we will successfully transform our region’s economies by leveraging the youth’s talent, imagination, creativity and commitment.”

Winners were further urged to seize the opportunity to help transform the region into one of the foremost global centres of excellence, given they were provided with the means to convert ideas into companies, to access capital to develop those ideas, tools and skills to help commercialize these ideas and the conduit to enter the marketplace, and skilfully circumvent obstacles to exporting their products and services.

“If we, as a region, want to be the fore-runners, the game changers and carve out a place of prominence as a global leader in technology, we must be the pioneers of innovation, the pioneers of education and even get into the trenches and ‘bring the hustle’ in order to be dominant in technology,” Mr. McCaskie emphasized.

Kenna Questelles George (left) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines finished third in the validation phase. (CTEP/GP)

CDB’s Acting Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division, Darran Newman, in congratulating CTEP said: “Virtual business incubators and accelerator hybrid programmes like CTEP contribute to the growth of digital transformation, and we recognize that at CDB.  And, we know that it has opened a world of opportunities for entrepreneurs.”

She urged the growth of businesses by the winners saying: “We want to see more businesses starting faster than before, selling their goods and services as thriving enterprises….  In pursuit of that goal, we have been scaling up our work at CDB to nurture that learning which could create a stronger entrepreneurial culture, of course towards a stronger region.  We will continue to support programmes like CTEP…”

Meanwhile, CTEP’s project coordinator, Lucinda Robinson, revealed that the call for applications for the 2018-2019 cohort was met with overwhelming response from over 500 applications, and it saw 225 entrepreneurs across 90 teams being accepted into the programme.  

She said: “After three months of intensive virtual modules, 43 teams entered the semi-finals and that number was refined to the 19 represented today.  Twelve of the CDB’s borrowing member countries were represented in Cohort I. While Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago made up the majority of the entries, we are pleased to have winners from Montserrat, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda, as well as St. Vincent & the Grenadines.”

Concluding, the CTEP representative stressed: “The entrepreneur ecosystem has embraced CTEP; we also saw a healthy response to a call for applications from mentors and facilitators…. Our entrepreneurs need opportunities and guidance to manifest our destinies; let’s show them that we are just as committed to their growth as they are to their dreams.”

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