I am very happy to announce that after a successful first round of the WINC Acceleration Programme in 2016, the second programme has been launched and we are now accepting applications from eligible women entrepreneurs.
The eight-month peer learning programme begins in November 2017 and is designed to help growth-oriented women entrepreneurs innovate within their businesses, and have the self-confidence to make the necessary changes to improve their competitiveness and boost their growth.
Participants will benefit from services including business and personal development, one-to-one mentoring, technical workshops and motivational sessions. The initiative is part of the Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by the World Bank’s infoDev programme for innovation and entrepreneurship.
It will be delivered by infoDev-trained and certified facilitators in nine countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Women entrepreneurs will be considered for selection provided that they have been running their business for at least two years, that the business has demonstrated growth, and that they have realistic plans for substantial future growth. Each country-based programme will support up to 12 women entrepreneurs.
According to Sophia Muradyan, coordinator for EPIC, “The combination of peer learning, personal development, and mentorship allows our women entrepreneurs to develop themselves as well as their businesses, which is essential for them to scale and so make an even greater contribution to the economic and social development of the region.”
In 2016, 108 women entrepreneurs graduated from the WINC Acceleration Programme from 12 countries in the Caribbean. Of these, 94% stated that their businesses had become more focused; 48% noted an increase in business total sales during the period; 77% indicated that they had significantly improved their marketing methods since joining the programme; and 73% indicated having significantly improved their internal processes and organizational structure and management practices.
Muradyan added: “From our previous research, we are aware of the most significant challenges facing growth-oriented women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean today – including lack of access to growth financing, very limited mentoring support, and underdeveloped professional networks. The positive results of WINC’s first offering means that we are now building on a solid foundation across the region. We are extremely pleased to be able to accommodate a second cohort under the programme.”
This is very timely as we continue to face economic challenges in Barbados and more than ever need our entrepreneurs and businesses in the private sector to grow, especially through exports which will earn foreign exchange. One of the great features of this programme is the networking connections across the Caribbean that become available to the participants.
I have spoken on many occasions about how this has worked for me personally. This network can provide the platform for participants to begin to export their products or services to other countries in the region, to form partnerships or set up joint ventures in other countries or to work with other entrepreneurs to meet the demands of larger markets.
One of the benefits of the programme that last year’s participants were enthused about was the ability to network and connect with other women entrepreneurs. This connection is still going on and they all continue to support each other’s businesses.
We were all therefore very happy when Island Plates, the restaurant jointly owned by one of our participants, Patricia Mash, was awarded Trip Advisor’s Certificate of Excellence for the fifth straight year.
Patricia, after being introduced to BIDC’s Export arm in one of the technical sessions of the programme, had labels created with the help of BIDC and has started packaging and “exporting” her condiments to her new and large number of repeat visitors to her restaurant.
I am very excited to be facilitating this next round of the Acceleration Programme. We have now benefited from all the data gathered from the last one, so that we can tweak the programme accordingly to ensure that the participants will reap the benefits of our knowledge and are helped to take their businesses to the next level.
Female entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their business may apply for the WINC 2017 Acceleration Programme at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WINC-AP2. The call for applications closes on 31 July 2017.
(Donna Every is an author, international speaker and trainer. She is the Barbados Facilitator for the InfoDev WINC Acceleration Programme and was the Barbados Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (2014 – 2016).Contact her at email@example.com. Website:www.donnaevery.com; www.facebook.com/DonnaEvery1)