If Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland had his way, entrepreneurship would be added as a programme to the secondary school curricula.
He made this point today as he addressed the opening session of the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Program (CTEP) stakeholder summit at the Caribbean Development Bank.
Stating that there was “limited scope for traditional employment opportunities for the youth and marginalized segments of the population”, Sutherland added that there was a “growing indifference among the youth in relation to socioeconomic structures”, and this would require more job creation and a change in mindset.
However, he said the next step should be “to recognize that the key driver of the paradigm shift lies within the mindset and the cultural predisposition of our people. Naturally, any shift in perception and perspective must commence at the societal level and must be spearheaded by the community. When I say that, I mean organizations and the wider society,” said Sutherland.
“So those of us given the privilege to lead our countries must endeavour to provide the appropriate facilitative framework and environment throughout various appendages whether they are broad policies and legislation, to aid micro, small and medium enterprises… And I will add that I am one who strongly believes that entrepreneurship should be taught in secondary schools as part of the curricula,” he added.
He argued that by equipping the youth with an entrepreneurial mindset this could help them to “unleash their creative imagination” and help the region to successfully tackle its challenges.
“Among these challenges is the fact that some of the region’s technological infrastructure is not as sophisticated as that of the first world countries and more advanced economies and the region lacks a harmonized entrepreneurship and innovation strategy,” he said.
CTEP, a virtual incubator accelerator programme, is focused on building the capacity of mentors, members and facilitators and provides innovators and entrepreneurs with opportunities.
The programme now in its fifth week is designed to support the growth of tech entrepreneurship among the 18-35 age group in CDB borrowing member countries. With 225 individuals from 12 borrowing member countries taking part in this iteration, officials said this was a testament to the overwhelming interest among young people to help solve the region’s challenges.
CTEP was started in February 2017 with over 160 participants. Coordinator, MSME Development Technical Cooperation Division of the CDB Lisa Harding said an evaluation of the programme suggested that it was a critical input in the readiness and development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
She argued that despite several national and regional initiatives to develop tech entrepreneurs, “there still remains unmet demand for this type of training, which I suspect is based on its mode of delivery. There are still a number of remaining gaps that limit development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We recognize that in the region we need a cross-cutting multi-sector strategy, which would ensure that MSME owners have adequate access to finance, there is suitable infrastructure in place, that capacity building is prioritized and that the institutions that support entrepreneurs are adequately supported as well,” she said.
Director of the Projects Department at the CDB Daniel Best said officials of that institution were pleased to help strengthen the reach of companies and transform the economies of its borrowing member states.
“The Bank is also interested in providing support to projects that focus on the use of technology because of the opportunity inherent for increasing the resilience of MSMEs in our borrowing member countries,” added Best. (MM)