PORT-OF_SPAIN, Trinidad — Entrepreneurs, business leaders, senior government officials, members of civil society and other influencers from the Caribbean and around the world, attended the virtual Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Republic Bank Limited’s (RBL) Sustainable Development Movement (SDM) 2020 Summit from September 23-24.
The high-point of the Summit’s was the conclusion of the Business Model Competition, which began in July, when 30 of the region’s high growth potential entrepreneurs were selected to undergo eight-weeks of capacity building through a virtual accelerator programme.
Three big winners emerged triumphant from the finals, which took the form of a live Shark-Tank-style pitch session hosted by Daymond John, star of ABC’s Shark-Tank, and President of the Shark Group.
Alex Straun of Genesis Payment Solutions, Saint Kitts and Nevis took home the third place prize of US$5,000; Trevaun Solomon of Project Jaguar, The Home of The Teacherpreneur, Antigua and Barbuda, took home the second place prize of US$10,000; and the crowd favourite, Jody White of Slimdown 360 Ltd, Trinidad and Tobago, took home the first place prize of US$20,000.
During the Summit’s opening ceremony, OECS Director-General Dr. Didacus Jules, captured the spirit of the event when quoting the lyrics of Bob Marley’s ‘Ride Natty Ride,’he issued a rallying call to the Summit’s attendees to fulfil the mission and ignite the fire of sustainable development in the region.
Dr. Jules’ call was echoed by RBL Executive Director Derwin Howell, who challenged Summit attendees to create a culture of lighting fires of change and a burning drive to innovate across the region.
After these statements of support and encouragement, two days followed, filled with more than 20 dynamic, virtual sessions that touched on virtually all areas of sustainable development, from sustainable energy, to social enterprise, to education, and justice reform.
Summit participants made the most of their opportunities to network and pose questions to Island Innovation Founder, James Ellsmoor; world renowned motivational speaker, Les Brown; and Love and Magic Company Serial Entrepreneur and Co-founder, Chinedu Echeruo.
The Summit revealed many truths about the Caribbean:
• The drive, commitment and unity of its organisations as seen in the cooperation between RBI and the OECS;
• The calibre and potential of its entrepreneurial class, as seen in the participants of the Business Model Competition;
• The broad network of interest and support for the region, as seen in the diversity of the Summit’s speakers and participants; and
• Most of all, it showed a region with a fighting spirit, undeterred by the challenges of a difficult year and determined to chart its own course forward.