There are now seven certified Grow Your Business facilitators in the Caribbean: three Trinidadians, two Barbadians, one St. Lucian and one Dominican. The certification process took place during the period March 30 – April 11, 2014, following a Train the Trainers “Grow Your Business” Seminar in September 2013. I was in the last group from April 7 – 11, 2014 and this week felt like a year! It was intense with long days ranging from 7:30am to 10pm, and that excludes your personal time for preparation. Unlike, my recent trip to Montserrat where I was able to engage in some extracurricular activities imbedded in the programme, I did not get a chance to leave the hotel, much less to be able to visit friends, until it was all over! However, at the end of the exercise, like Cece Winans sings, “it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.”
The Grow Your Business Seminar is a project of InfoDev, a department of World Bank in partnership with the Government of Canada Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), undertaken through the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC) as part of the “Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC).
The aims of WINC are to:
- Assist existing Caribbean women-led businesses which have the capacity to grow substantially via the adoption of innovative practices and products;
- Grow the pipeline of women-led, innovative, technology businesses, specifically in the areas of climate and mobile;
- Strengthen networks of innovative women entrepreneurs who can support each other, share knowledge and ideas, and inspire others by showcasing their success stories
The Grow Your Business Seminar targets two specific groups of women:
- Women who are already managing/operating existing businesses but who want to move ahead
- Entrepreneurs who want to start new technology businesses especially with a mobile or environmental focus.
WINC conducted one “Train the Trainers” workshop in September 2013, bringing participants from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Belize, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Dominica. Two certification workshops were conducted in March and April 2014 and seven persons from the countries identified earlier were certified to conduct the “Grow Your Business” Seminars in the Caribbean.
Four “Grow Your Business” seminars were conducted in the Caribbean, two in September 2013 (Barbados and Jamaica) and two in March-April 2014 (Antigua & Barbuda and St. Lucia). The Trainers and Assessors, Dr. Jill Sawers from South Africa and Dr. Mullika Sungsant from Thailand, who developed the training material, conducted the workshops in 2013. Participants of the Train the Trainers workshop from Barbados and Jamaica assisted them.
The trainers selected for certification conducted the seminars in 2014. Ms. Cheryl Gittens of Barbados, Ms. Alicia Charles, Ms. Nadia Ramiksson and Ms. Felicity Richards of Trinidad and Tobago conducted the seminar in Antigua and Barbuda. Ms. Finola Prescott of St. Lucia, Dr. Wendy Hollingsworth of Barbados and I conducted the seminar in St. Lucia. There were 22 participants at the workshop in Antigua with 4 of them coming from Dominica and 27 participants in St. Lucia with one coming from Dominica. There were 2 participants from Dominica at the workshop held in Barbados in 2013. This demonstrates that our small businesses are competitive for the process is highly competitive and the fact that we were able to command such high representation speaks to the potential for growth of our small businesses.
The feedback from the participants of the “Grow Your Business” seminar has been highly positive with many stating that it provided for them validation that they are on the right track, yet demonstrating areas of growth and critical areas where enhancement is needed. The opportunity to network, share and learn was highly valued and the excitement and eagerness of the women to begin their connection saw the group from St. Lucia establishing the Facebook and other platforms within a day of the completion of the training. Some of the participants from both the St. Lucia and Antiguan seminars have already posted their comments on the WINC Facebook.
It was for me, as well as the other facilitators, a wonderful experience working with the dynamic, innovative and brilliant group of women entrepreneurs across the Region. It was also deeply fulfilling to be part of the process witnessing the “Aha Moments,” and listening to how the participants intended to apply the learning. Some of the presentations were awesome and witnessing the impact on some participants brought tears of joy and pride.
The Grow Your Business Seminar already has some tangible success stories with one of the key stories being Ruth Spencer, Manger of Spencer’s Apartments in Antigua. Following her attendance at the workshop in Barbados in 2013, she established a new business aimed at providing low cost solar energy to households. In the coming months a series of “Grow Your Business “ seminars are planned, so I encourage you to follow the WINC’ Facebook page for early notification. Notification will also be carried out on VF Inc.’s website and Facebook page as well as those of the other certified trainers. Advertisements will also be placed using local media wherever possible.
For further information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 767 449 9649.
Until we meet again, may the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.