Yesterday we had our Women’s Entrepreneurship Day breakfast and all I can say is “wow!” The women came out in their numbers and the room was full. From the excellence of my MC, Francine Charles, to the frank, down-to-earth and inspiring speech by the British High Commissioner- Victoria Dean, to the interactive panel discussion, it was a truly memorable day.
Being serenaded by Kellie Price during the sumptuous breakfast and listening to the powerful words of poetry shared by Danielle Toppin was simply icing on an already rich cake. To God be the glory!
One of the highlights for me was the awarding of two entrepreneurs: Nadaline Cummings of Caribbean E-Waste Management and Marcia Weekes of Step By Step Productions, for being pioneers in exporting in non-traditional sectors. Thanks so much to Williams Industries for sponsoring those awards.
Nadaline Malikca Cummings founded her company in 2008, as she wanted to create an innovative business and to provide employment for herself and others. The company currently operates from Barbados and primarily exports components harvested from ITC equipment and computer parts to the US. Malikca, as she is commonly known, has plans to expand the business into other Caribbean markets, offering data destruction services and consultation services to assist other entrepreneurs to develop e-waste management facilities. She has already started her consultation services with a visit to St. Vincent last month, facilitated by the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods. We congratulate Malicka for going beyond the borders and breaking barriers.
Marcia Weekes is a pioneer in the film industry in Barbados, producing films through her company, Step by Step Productions, since 2008. Her first film,Hush, played to thousands of secondary school students in Barbados and to sold-out crowds at the Olympus Theatres. She had similar success with her Hush 2 and Hush 3 movies, and her movie Chrissy was nominated for Best International Film at the Bronze Lens Film Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. She has exported her films to the Caribbean and the diaspora.
Vigilante, her latest film, debuted at the 2015 Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles and was selected to participate in the Cannes Film Festival in France this year, where Marcia was the only film producer from the Caribbean. A number of divine appointments marked her trip to France and she made vital connections, including the producers of .Hollywood Reporter who are now interested in doing a feature on the Barbados Film Festival
She also met with DogWoof, a leading distributor of independent films in the UK, who will be distributing Vigilante worldwide. Marcia has broken all barriers and taken her work far beyond the borders.
One of the other features of the day was the display of the products and services of some of the entrepreneurs. I was very impressed with the quality of the goods and treated myself to a necklace made with dried fat pork seeds and other items. When is the last time you saw a fat pork? There was also a business selling high-quality spa products in very attractive packaging, and many others.
One of the services on display that I found very fascinating was an online business called Isle and Dine. I will have to feature that business in another article, but it is very innovative in that it provides chefs or people who like to cook – hosts – with the opportunity to advertise a meal and allow diners to book that meal. They could either go to the host’s location or the host could come to them to prepare the meal, I believe. The host earns money from preparing the meal and the company earns commission for bringing the host and diner together.
There were many others which I don’t have the space to mention, but I am happy that we have a number of entrepreneurs who have products and services that are ready for export and only need access to markets to go beyond the borders. This is why I am excited about the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC) Acceleration Programme and other initiatives which will help to connect entrepreneurs locally and regionally. We’re on our way!
Donna Every is the current Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. She is a certified facilitator for the WINC Acceleration Programme and a mentor for the Barbados Youth Business Trust. She has just released the first book in the series, ‘The ABCs of Entrepreneurship – Tessa Takes the Challenge’