By Sheria Brathwaite
CIBC FirstCaribbean is partnering with The Entrepreneurial Network (TEN) Habitat to help 45 women give their businesses a boost.
Through the banking institution’s community trust, these women will be given scholarships at the business empowerment centre where they will be given the tools to develop their entrepreneurial pursuits, through the TEN Sisterhood Accelerator Programme.
During a press conference at TEN Habitat’s headquarters in Wildey, St Michael on Thursday, Founder and Executive Director Selwyn Cambridge said this was the perfect opportunity for women who
wanted to take their side hustle to the next level.
“We were very intentional in how we designed the TEN Sisterhood programme because one of the recognitions that we quickly made was women want to get the support, but oftentimes, they are conflicted because they’re either caretakers for elderly parents, or they are the sole parent taking care of children. And so, what we’ve instituted as part of the programme is free daycare within TEN Habitat. So they can come with their children and their kids are taken care of and they’re able to focus on their learning.
“This is really important because in order to build a business, you need to be focused and you can’t be distracted worrying about what’s happening with my children [or] I need to leave to get to my kids. We removed that so that they can focus exclusively on building a business so that they can, in turn, take better care of their kids because they are able to build a future for themselves and their families,” Cambridge said.
CIBC is offering a $10 000 scholarship programme annually for three years.
Each year, the bank will be covering the fees of the TEN Sisterhood Accelerator Programme for 15 women.
The three-month programme, which is geared towards start-up businesses, begins in November and interested women are advised to reach out to TEN Habitat to apply.
Cambridge said emphasis was being placed on assisting women as they were not always offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts when pursuing business ideas.
He added that the programme will help women develop a business plan, assist with financial planning and help them transform their ideas into a full-time pursuit.
“One of the things that we did in designing the programme is that we also recognised that a lot of women who are pursuing businesses are oftentimes pursuing it on the side. So, they’re full-time employed and they’re trying to run a business as a side hustle, as they call it. And so, one of the things that we’re looking at first is ‘how do we allow these women to transition?’ So we look at their financial health and what is required in order to get them in a position to reliably and sustainably transition into that programme. We’re looking at business structure, we’re looking at market suitability and we’re looking at the mindset,” Cambridge explained.
“A lot of businesses are starting small and remaining small and it’s not because they’re not good businesses or they’re not good products; it’s because the business founder does not yet possess the mindset to transition into a growth structure for that business. So a lot of entrepreneurs, their mindset is essentially the hurdle that’s holding them back,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean Mark St Hill said the bank’s community trust was established in 2003 and one per cent of the institution’s earnings went towards a charitable cause.
Thus far, more than US$30 million has been donated to such causes.
He added that the scholarship opportunity fits into the bank’s community trust education and community development programme.
“The development of the entrepreneurial spirit within our communities is more relevant today as the entire world grapples with a new way of approaching the management of economies across the globe. We are seeing more entrepreneurs coming, even in Barbados alone; we’re seeing more people working for themselves and doing it in a very successful way. We have seen many companies go from what we call micro/small to business banking and moving into corporate; it excites us very much,” St Hill said.
“Surviving as a new business is difficult… Surviving as a female-run business is even more difficult, which is why our support of those who will benefit from these scholarships is even more critical. Our aim, therefore, is to encourage the stimulation of new female-led businesses through supporting the business leaders of tomorrow as they plan their part in this important sector.”