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Young Vincentian sails away with CIC award

Young Vincentian sails away with CIC award

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THE LATE arrival of the centrepiece of his business — a solar and wind powered boat prototype, was not enough to deny young Vincentian engineer Kamara Jerome his first major business award.{{more}}

Jerome’s green technology business Emerald Energy was awarded the top business award in the environmental category at the inaugural Caribbean Innovation Challenge (CIC) finals, held recently in Barbados.

“I was confident I would have won, regardless of the trials,” the young entrepreneur said, moments after he collected his award and a cheque for US$5,000. “It is a wonderful feeling,” he added.

Despite some anxious moments waiting for the arrival of the boat prototype, Jerome was full of praise for his fellow finalists who were all very supportive of him.

“We were like one team; they were all there for me,” he said. He was also thankful to the judges for their patience in reviewing his presentation again once his boat had arrived.

In addition, five winners, two from Trinidad and Tobago, one each from Barbados, Antigua and Grenada, were awarded top awards in the three business categories – economic, environmental and social.

They were each awarded US$5,000 and one member of each team will be headed to Guatemala to compete for additional funding for their businesses at the Talent and Innovation Challenge of the Americas in June this year.

Trinidadians Wesley Gervais won in the economics business category for his online outsourcing marketplace business, Hivesource, while Michael Parris and Jonelle Jones of Mr Tallyman’s Sun Dried Bananas won one of two top prizes in the social category.

In the social category, Bookline, a textbook rental and loan company, run by Barbadians Kevin Bishop, Rochelle Walrond, Ian Cox and Chenika Moore, also came out on top in the social category.

Antiguans Jermaine Paul, Winston Laville and Dominic Chastanet won the top award in the economic category for their agro-processing business LCP Industries. Tambran by Tamara, an eco-friendly business owned by Grenadian Tamara Prosper earned the other top spot in the environmental category.

The finals, which took place on Friday, April 26 at the Barbados Hilton Hotel was the culmination of months of intense workshops and other business development activities, organized by sponsors the United Nations Development Programme’s Youth-In Project, in conjunction with the Young Americas Business Trust, with support from the Italian Government.

The 20 finalists beat out over 470 other teams from throughout the region to gain a place in the two-day event in Barbados, where under the guidance of experienced businessmen and women they honed their skills and learned the finer points of entrepreneurship.

Barbados’ Ambassador to Washington John Beale congratulated the finalists on their creative and innovative ideas. He said he was certain participants will have a positive impact on their communities and the region.

Beale said governments cannot mobilise resources to employ all of their people and fostering entrepreneurship among young people “was the way to go”.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Young Americas Business Trust Roy Thomasson said the “true winners” were those who, whether they “win or lose, will continue. This is not about winning or losing, but learning from the experience,” he said.

United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Resident Representative Michelle Gyles-McDonnough said the push toward entrepreneurship, especially among the region’s youth, was crucial, given the “pressing challenge” of job creation within the region. She said the CIC showed the “desire of young entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities, if we afford them access to finance, the environment to test new ideas and innovate, and create the space for the expansion of private enterprise.”

Organisation of American States Executive Secretary for Integration Development Sherry Tross pledged the hemispheric body’s continued support to the region’s young business persons. She told the participants the OAS was “committed to working with you to make your dreams a reality” and program manager with the UNDP Paula Mohammed said the event had “reaffirmed” the wealth of youthful business talent in the region.

All of the finalists received certificates of participation.

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