Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal. Monday, April 25, 2022 — On Thursday, April 21, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Open Campus and Compete Caribbean hosted the Virtual Award Ceremony for the Regional Business Plan Competition, which was launched on January 25, 2022.
The overall winner of the competition is Ms Chloe Walker of Barbados and her business entitled Rockhall Freedom Walk Experience. Chloe will receive US$2500.00 worth of technical assistance from Compete Caribbean. Mr Cenus Hinds of St Vincent and the Grenadines with his web based CARIWAY copped the second prize of US$2000.00 worth of technical assistance, while third place went to Ms Reffica Attwood, of Wallings Nature Reserve, Antigua and Barbuda with a prize of US$1400.00.
In her response, winner Ms Chloe Walker thanked the organizers, UWI Open Campus and Compete Caribbean and explained that the competition has been a learning experience. “It has been incredible to have the CBT toolkit, the webinars and training sessions to help us turn an idea into a viable business. We are very grateful to see the Freedom Walk Experience come to life,” said Chloe.
Second prizewinner, Mr Cenus Hinds of the CARIWAY indicated that he was very elated to have placed in the competition. He now plans to go the extra mile with virtual reality online tours. The competition he noted has helped tremendously with advice and feedback.
Ms Reffica Attwood, the third prizewinner of Wallings Nature Reserve, noted that community tourism was driving the engine of growth in the region. “I am elated to represent my country and give persons in the space of Antigua and Barbuda who are making the soap, the lemongrass punch, doing massages and yoga an opportunity at livelihood.” she stated in explaining some of the services offered at the nature reserve.
Director, Open Campus Country Sites, Dr Cheryl Sloley in her remarks indicated that the success of this competition is an endorsement of The UWI Triple A Strategy, which espouses the three pillars of access, agility and alignment. “Through this competition we have provided access to capacity building and technical assistance, via the far-reaching webinars and awarding prizes specifically targeted to the wish list and business needs of top performers. The UWI has demonstrated its agility to move away from bureaucratic processes and traditional programme delivery to being responsive in meeting our people where they are and lighting a path for Caribbean entrepreneur and by the alignment of our goals to those of the people we serve and the strategic partnerships we facilitate, The UWI continues to show our relevance and dominance worldwide,” she stated.
Productivity and Innovation Coordinator of Compete Caribbean, Mr Wayne Elliott, stated that Compete Caribbean recognized that community-based tourism is a powerful channel for sustainable and inclusive economic development in the Caribbean, as it enables greater market opportunities for broad based local entrepreneurs which in turn creates employment opportunities. “Building entrepreneurship and supporting the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem are two critical challenges that need greater attention if the region is to continue to make significant strides in its pursuit of sustainable development, said Mr Elliott.
Project Coordinator from The UWI Open Campus Business Development Unit, Ms Jody-Ann Grizzle in her presentation about the competition noted that a total of US$6,000 in technical support was shared among the top three contestants. “One of the observations in working with Compete Caribbean and from their expertise is that an entrepreneur does not only need cash, but he/she needs the softer skills and other knowledge to move their business from one level to another, so the broad definition of technical assistance was the primary focus of the prizes,” explained Ms Grizzle.
Technical assistance includes costs related to training and capacity building, access to incubators, study tours and technical experts to assist with further refinement, development and launch of the business.
The competition, which ran from January 25 to March 11, 2022, received business plans submissions from 22 contestants from eight Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Of the 22 contestants, there were eight males and 14 females.
The panel of judges for this competition comprises Dr Cheryl Sloley, Director, Open Campus Country Sites; Mr Brian Frontin, Caribbean Tourism Organization; Mr Richard Campbell, Organisation of American States (OAS); Dr Anne Crick, Mona School of Business and Management and Mr Courtney Lindsay of Compete Caribbean. These judges gave their time and expertise to review the competition rules and criteria, review and evaluation business plans and competition pitch presentations as well as bring subject matter experience to bear on the selection of the top contestants.
The Competition was designed to identify entrepreneurs in the sector, and encourage the development of innovative, community-driven ideas with potential for expansion and increase community-based enterprises.