It Takes a Village To Raise a Successful Entrepreneur

Key Takeways from the Accelerate Caribbean St Lucia Training and Workshop

By Tassia Stewart November 1, 2015

How many times have we read or seen a story about some wildly successful businessman or woman who has defied the odds and achieved an extraordinary feat in business? How often do we accept that this person is just special, gifted or has some unique talent? Often, right?

While we cannot deny that certain personality types, and special skills and talents can increase the likelihood of someone’s success, we know that the likelihood is even greater when combined with the right circumstances.

Accelerate Caribbean’s Business Incubation Management (BIM) Training and Workshop held at the Royal By Rex Hotel in Rodney Bay, St Lucia over October 14 – 16, 2015 engaged a diverse audience of 30 business enablers, government workers, representatives of business support organizations, and entrepreneurs, with the objective of equipping them with the knowledge, skills and tools to excel at working with and for the entrepreneurs they serve, basically, creating the ‘right circumstances’.

The three-day event opened with an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development Workshop designed to foster collaborative and open discussion around principles and good practices of business incubation. The challenges and opportunities present in St -Lucia were explored and discussions began around how the country, as well as others in the region, can work collaboratively to bolster the ecosystems in their respective islands.

St. Lucia’s Minister for Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, Hon. Emma Hippolyte gave the opening address at the Workshop. Her impassioned message focused on the need to abandon the notion of the ‘self-made entrepreneur’ and to embrace the building of support networks for business people.

Emma Hippolyte

St. Lucia’s Minister for Commerce and Business Development, Emma Hippolyte

Lead Mentor for Accelerate Caribbean and founder of Koltai & Co, Mr. Steven Koltai, was on the same page with Minister Hippolyte when he presented the Koltai&Co six plus six entrepreneurship ecosystem model. The six plus six model is built on the premise that “no single factor alone moves entrepreneurship forward. Rather entrepreneurship thrives when multiple sectors and actors consciously work together to develop a supportive environment for entrepreneurship.” The model highlights the six fundamental actions required to build an entrepreneurship ecosystem – Identify, Train, Connect and Sustain, Fund, Enable and Celebrate Entrepreneurs. ” [1]

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Steven Koltai presents his Six plus Six Entrepreneurshhip Ecosystem Model at BIMSLu

To put the concept of the 6 plus 6 Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Model into perspective Steven expertly guided the participants through an engaging practical exercise, where teams had to brainstorm and illustrate their own ecosystems, identifying real examples where actual businesses are identified, trained, connected and sustained, funded, enabled and celebrated. The celebratory aspect emerged the most identifiable for St. Lucia, which underscores the relatively weak perception of St. Lucians of their own entrepreneurial ecosystem in spite of the enabling institutions and measures that exist.

In the two days of that followed the opening Workshop, modules 1, 2 and 3 of the InfoDev Global Business Incubation Management (BIM) Training programme were rolled out to 34 trainees, building on the context set by the opening workshop. Modules 1-3 focus on Business Incubation – Definitions & Principles, Business Incubation Models and Success Factors and Planning an Incubator. InfoDev certified trainers from the region, Mr. C César Yammal and Dr. Carlos Bizzotto, lead the training, a mix of presentations, matches, a panel discussion and practical group exercises.  Participants tweeted and shared their experiences on Facebook and on twitter using hashtag #BIMSLU.

Accelerate Caribbean St Lucia

Trainer, Cesar Yammal, takes participants through an exercise on the entrepreneurship network, difficult to build even harder to maintain.

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This exercise illustrates trust, direction, risk and teamwork, all critical to the incubator-entrepreneur relationship

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Among the noted participants were the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP), National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS) Trinidad & Tobago, and StartUp Jamaica, three of the ten 10 enablers currently in our Accelerate Caribbean 12-month Business Incubator Clinic.[2]CARCIP Project Coordinator, Mr Christopher Roberts, as well as three representatives from The Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC), also attended, bringing to five, the number of countries represented- Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and host country St. Lucia.

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Representatives of WINC – Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean, at BIMSLu

Over the three days one thing was clear, that the single most important thing for entrepreneurship to thrive is an enabling ecosystem.

The immediate outcomes of the St Lucia leg of Business Incubator Management (BIM) training look positive, especially when compared to the lack of specialized incubation management expertise in the island before. When we look at other start-up environments across the world, we can clearly see an investment in training and in building entrepreneurship support networks evidenced by the proliferation of hot desks, co-working spaces, accelerators and incubators internationally. This training now puts St. Lucia in a better position to support and empower their business people though the build out of such incubation-type facilities.

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Participant receiving her certificate on the final day of training

In the Caribbean we remain generally very fragmented in our approach. Every industry, every agency, every department, is in pursuit of a single agenda. As we have learnt this is not ideal for the entrepreneurial ecosystems we are trying to foster in each island, and certainly not conducive to building a regional business incubator association that will be critical in the medium to long term. The task therefore is to cause mindset change.

Government Ministers, policy makers and entrepreneurs probably all see the need for greater synergy. But single Ministers, legislators, citizens, and entrepreneurs knowing this will not make it happen. It has to be planned for and pursued. Someone has to take this on, a champion of sorts within the government, to push and push, to coordinate and advocate. Someone has to see the vision and take an interest in wanting to see that vision realized. We must take steps to identify that champion.

Our people have no problems seizing opportunities and creating opportunities where they do not exist, they are naturally enterprising, but as they are often left up to their own devices to ‘make it happen’it sometimes just does not!

We must abandon the notion of the “self-made entrepreneur” to echo the sentiments of St. Lucia’s Commerce Minister.

Successful entrepreneurs are not self-made. The best entrepreneurs are mentored, assisted, supported, encouraged – they are molded! The truth is it takes an entire network of professionals and support services to do it. It takes a village!

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Accelerate Caribbean is designed by infoDev (The World Bank Group) as part of its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). EPIC is a seven-year program funded by the Government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem to strengthen entrepreneurship and boost job creation across the region. Coming out of a needs assessment in 2014, it was found that we were lacking a silicon-valley-type approach to entrepreneurs, where qualified small business could receive tailored nurturing to improve their competitiveness, and therefore stay in business. The project is implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd (IMC) in partnership with KoltaiCo, UWI Consulting, and the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BSCI).

[1] The Six plus six entrepreneurship ecosystem model  – http://koltai.co/

[2] Accelerate Caribbean Business Incubation Clinic – http://acceleratecaribbean.com/bic

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Accelerate Caribbean Jump-starts Incubators in St Lucia

By Tassia Stewart  and Vincent Lewis on October 16, 2015

Accelerate Caribbean, the regional entrepreneurship development programme of  infodev (The World Bank group) launched its second regional Business Incubation Management (BIM) Training and Entrepreneurial Development Workshop at The Royal by Rex Resorts in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia on Wednesday October 14, 2015.

Scenes from the BIM Training in St Lucia

Speaking at the opening ceremony, St. Lucia’s Commerce Minister, Hon. Emma Hippolyte,described the Accelerate Caribbean Project as timely and necessary for the island’s emerging economy, especially the small business sector. She called for a significant ‘culture change’ from competition based entrepreneurship to collaboration based entrepreneurship, so that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the island and the region can strengthen their capacity, access capital and business opportunities. Noting that “the small business of today is the mega company of tomorrow” she identified the J.Q. Charles Group, Bay Gardens Resorts and the CIE Group of Companies as exemplifying this ideal.

Underscoring the importance of government support for the growth of the business sector, Minister Hippolyte said the time has come for us to move away from the myth of the “self-made entrepreneur.” She cited the need for policy and legislative reform and the nurturing of an entrepreneurial culture among our youth. She also called for the elimination of silos and the need to create greater synergies among public sector agencies in particular.

The Minister’s impassioned message resonated with the diverse audience of business enablers, government officials, representatives of business support organizations, and entrepreneurs – some of whom travelled to St. Lucia for the event.The 3-day exercise brings together participants from Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and host country St. Lucia.

Steven Koltai, Lead Mentor for the Accelerate Caribbean Project, echoed the Minister’s sentiments.He told the gathering: “There is no single thing you can do to spur entrepreneurship. All activities must be woven together to create programmes that move the needle in bolstering the entrepreneurship ecosystem.” Koltai went on to clarify that this often doesn’t mean more funding, but rather, deliberate planning and greater coordination to grow start-ups. He noted that most entrepreneurs are self-funding and the traditional banking system is not designed, nor inclined to provide funding to start-ups. Noting that Entrepreneurship is not viewed favourably – especially in developing countries – Koltai said it is imperative that successful entrepreneurs tell their stories, in order to inspire others to explore their own business ideas and pursue their dreams.

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Visit AccelerateCaribbean.com or follow on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the programme and information upcoming events and training.

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Calling all entrepreneurs: Are you seeking capital to fund your project? “Grow with the crowd”!

Five things we learned from Accelerate Caribbean’s webinar on crowdfunding

By Tassia Stewart on September 26, 2015

‘Chart your own path!’ ‘Don’t follow company!’ as we say in the Caribbean. Who hasn’t been taught to be different, innovative, to differentiate from the crowd?

Yet what about raising your game thanks to the crowd? Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular method of raising capital for your business and projects by engaging your entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people (a crowd), typically via the internet. Your success depends on your ability to build popularity, and to act as an inspirational entrepreneur enticing the stakeholders’ community to support your project.

Cecile Watson, CEO of Pitch and Choose, Main Speaker, Accelerate Caribbean Crowdfunding Webinar Ms. A, Cecile Watson[1], the Caribbean’s own crowdfunding evangelist, encouraged us to go with the crowd, as she led Accelerate Caribbean’s webinar ‘How to win at crowdfunding’ on Wednesday September 16, 2015. This webinar was the first in a four-part series put on by Accelerate Caribbean to engage various topics of interest to entrepreneurs over the next 12 months.

Sixty-six captivated participants from across the entire Caribbean entrepreneurial community joined the webinar and Cecile did a phenomenal job explaining the ins and outs of crowd-funding as a means of raising capital.

Here are five takeaways that could help you boost your project:

  1. Crowdfunding works! Yes! From the Jamaican bobsleigh team raising funds for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, to popular broadcaster Patria-Kaye Aarons raising capital for her candy company, Sweetie, crowdfunding is a proven and realistic way to raise funds for your business venture or project.
  1. Be ready to pitch! Just as you would make a pitch to angel investors in a boardroom, you should be prepared to tell the crowd why you need their hard-earned money and what you will do with it.
  1. Female Business leaders are almost 10 times more successful in raising capital with online platforms than with traditional banks and five times more successful compared to their venture capital investments. Wow, crowdfunding is providing better options for women entrepreneurs. How encouraging!
  1. All Crowdfunding platforms and campaigns are not the same! Under ‘keep it all’ campaigns, all pledged funds are handed over to the project whilst under ‘all or nothing’ campaigns the project will only get the funds if a pre-set funding goal is met. Funding models can additionally vary, from lending based models to donations based, equity based and rewards based models. The diversity of existing strategies and opportunities require entrepreneurs to conduct research and wisely choose the approach that best matches their objectives!
  1. You cannot run a successful crowdfunding campaign without Social Media! Social Media is how entrepreneurs find and connect with potential friends and investors and measure the potential reach of their business. So engage in the online world and build your crowd from now!

Good luck to our innovators and entrepreneurs working to pitch their crowdfunding campaigns to grow their businesses and create homegrown jobs and opportunities. Follow this link to revisit Cecile’s crowdfunding webinar.

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Accelerate Caribbean is a Business Incubation and Training program designed by infoDev (the World Bank Group) as part of its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the Government of Canada. The project is implemented by IMC Worldwide Ltd in partnership with Koltai & Co, UWI Consulting, and BCSI, with a focus on increasing business enablers’ capacity to innovate and scale-up their service offering to entrepreneurs through a tailored package of training and mentorship.

IMC Worldwide is a UK based international development consultancy with over 50 years’ experience managing complex programs addressing the world’s foremost international development challenges.

[1]Cecile Watson is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pitch & Choose, the Caribbean’s first native crowdfunding platform. Her impressive career in business and finance informed her crowdfunding experience which has taken her from the Caribbean to North America, Africa and back.

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Welcome to the Accelerate Caribbean blogsite

Hello!

Thank you for visiting the Accelerate Caribbean blog site. Our goal is to support the development of a vibrant entrepreneurial eco-system in the Caribbean channeling innovation and entrepreneurship to create growth and jobs.

We will post information and resources from the programme. If you have any questions relating to the project please email project coordinator Alix Landais: alix.landais@imcworldwide.com

Many thanks,

Accelerate Caribbean team.

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