Six participants in the 2018/2019 cohort of the Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development (SEED) programme are one step closer to realising their dream of becoming owners of their own businesses as the programme continues to bear fruit.
On Wednesday, the group who were finalists in the 2019 SEED Business Plan competition, took part in an award ceremony at the 3Ws Oval at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), where they shared in a pool of about $30,000.
Director of Corporate Communications at CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank Debra King congratulated all the participants of the SEED programme, stating that the development of youth in the region and their entrepreneurial potential was something that the financial institution would continue to support.
“We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways of reaching out to our young people,” said King. “As the economies of this region try to emerge from the many recent challenges, led in part by private sector growth, new opportunities are opening for small entrepreneurs. I urge all of you to take a firm hold of these opportunities and exploit them to the fullest,” she said.
All the contestants outlined that while they wanted to own their own business, they were creating the businesses to help solve a range of societal concerns ranging from youth unemployment to hunger and poverty.
Walking away with joint first prize were Kemar Codrington and Mikhail Eversley of Oasis Laboratory and Franz Harewood-Hamblin of Grow Smart Youth Farm.
Owners of the Oasis Lab said the company was conceptualised and established last year as an ultra-modern scientific analytical and research hub with a view to preserve local and regional heritage, embrace nature and promote sustainability in the blue and green economy through science. Among other things, they study plant based resources to create value-added products.
The mission of the Grow Smart Youth Farm is to produce vegetables using modern and innovative methods including aquaponics.
“We want to do this through harnessing the potential of young people. We see everything that is going on with violence and crime and we thought it is necessary to really employ the skills of young people on our farm. [We want to] be able to harness their potential in order to enhance food self-sufficiency, reduce poverty and create opportunities for unemployed youth. We want to do it in a sustainable way,” said Harewood-Hamblin.
Capturing third place was Katrina Reece-Burley of Just Believe Children’s Salon, which she said was a “social entrepreneurial venture that is going to provide hair grooming services to children between the ages of three and 16”.
Pointing out that there will be a mentorship aspect to her business, Reece-Burley, who has a disability as a result of a brain aneurysm, said her hope was to help “reduce poverty and human trafficking”, while providing employment for school leavers.
Fourth place went to Shakayla Jordan of Baem’bu Box, who said her company was designed to promote and market locally manufactured beauty products to help local entrepreneurs increase their sales.
Meanwhile, Sherry-Ann Waithe, who captured fifth place in the SEED competition for her idea for Elohim’s Senior Care Home business, said she was seeking to provide short- and long-term elderly care in a way that allowed individuals to “feel like they are at home”.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland congratulated the SEED participants, saying the programme had the responsibility of producing more bankable businesses. He added that the businesses would continue to have access to “handholding” through the various programmes and partners. However, he said several questions must be answered.
“The questions that must be answered are: how best can we use our collective intellectual, creative, financial and other resources to enhance entrepreneurship to ensure that Barbados is better positioned to be a major world player despite its small size? How can we recapture the imaginations of members of our society that do not currently feel they belong? How do we ensure that all players in society recognise that their roles are equally important? How do we do it with entrepreneurship?” he queried.