EMPOWERING and enabling home-grown businesses is a key part of Invest Saint Lucia’s (ISL) Strategic Objectives. To that end, ISL has already conducted a number of entrepreneurial activities towards the establishment of a Business Incubator and Accelerator Programme with the intention to create economic opportunities and wealth for citizens; stimulate economic development and diversification, including increasing exports and strengthen the business ecosystem to boost the creation of firms as well as to improve SME growth. This initiative will also improve the ability of SMEs to access finance by improving SME finance readiness and awareness of channels to finance, fostering innovative and entrepreneurial thinking and supporting the emergence of a National Innovation System, and encouraging collaboration amongst government, quasi-government and non-profit agencies who already work with startup and existing entrepreneurs.
For many Saint Lucian entrepreneurs, it will be their first experience with business incubation and acceleration. What it entails is still unknown to most and therefore it is worthwhile to raise awareness about them so that new participants have the right expectations when they enter the programme.
Business Incubation is a process of nurturing a business concept until it manifests as a start-up company. This is done through a comprehensive business support programme geared to ensure the start-up is a success from day one of operation. A Business Incubator designates a specific time, space and facility to accommodate this process.
Many entrepreneurs who go at it alone, often find the early stages of their start-up to be a slow and arduous process. Business incubators are designed to rapidly overcome these hurdles and bring about growth through education, mentorship, and financing. The focus is on market validation, customer development, product market fit, development of a Minimal Viable Product, business model validation and pitching, generally for finance.
Accelerators on the other hand are like a supplemental dose of intense, rapid and immersive education aimed at rapidly advancing the life cycle of young innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months (3-6 months). It is perfect for start-ups that have moved beyond the earliest stages of getting established and can stand on their own two feet but need supervision and peer support to gain strength.
If you own a start-up in Saint Lucia, the business incubator and accelerator entrepreneurship hub can help with business support services that include mentorship, accounting, legal support, HR advice, business management, business planning and IT support. Invest Saint Lucia invites all local entrepreneurs to like and subscribe to its Facebook to keep abreast of new opportunities to participate in its next cycle of Business Incubation and Acceleration Programmes.