Letters & Opinion

To Meet or not to Meet?

Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Image of Kensley Peter Charlemange
Independent Eye by Kensley Peter Charlemange

THOSE who know me know that I believe in innovation and entrepreneurship as fundamental components to driving any economy. For that to happen we cannot stifle the creative genes and aptitudes that are natural to children whenever or wherever they are born into this world. Harnessing creativity starts in the home. It’s about keeping our children’s inquiring minds alive. They will ask questions. Don’t shut them up. They will explore and experiment. Where it doesn’t endanger their life, allow them.

Our education system may need revamping to allow for more learning by discovery. Just thought I should establish that before getting into the meat of the matter. Innovation and entrepreneurship do not just happen.

Earlier this month, the Entrepreneur Meetup was announced by Invest Saint Lucia. The event was also promoted by the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, and I was intrigued, not because of the promoting institution or promoter, but because of the concept of entrepreneurship.

So in my excitement I shared the posts and news articles, I even changed my cover photo on Facebook displaying the event’s flyer.

I was among the first few people at the event. I got there before the start time, even if I was coming from the South. I was ready, flyers in my bag and my business cards at hand.

The seating capacity revealed that Invest Saint Lucia was in expectation of a large turnout and they were not to be disappointed. The people I think who were dissatisfied were the many who turned out, including me. People who are in business already (entrepreneurs) are not necessarily looking for motivation to get off the ground. They have already started the grueling journey. At the event is where I learned of its theme, “Doing What You Love and Being Profitable Doing It: Substances for Success.” I am told that ISL did their surveys to decipher the needs of entrepreneurs in Saint Lucia. I will tell you one thing, entrepreneurs here, are tired of talk shop undertakings like what happened at the Meetup. You could tell through the pointed questions that were asked there, the ones you will not hear about in glowing press releases.

From the Meetup, I gathered that entrepreneurs are looking for favourable conditions for their businesses to grow; the same or better than what is afforded to foreign investors, like leasing land at $1 an acre for 99 years. It also came across too that our policies on entrepreneurship are not well defined and so one member of the audience pointed to institutional strengthening and capacity building.

At the least for me, I wanted to get some idea of what the incubator programme that ISL is proposing is all about. I did not get much of an inkling into what it will be. They did say it was the first in a series but for me the first was disappointing. I was not even motivated to give out one business card or flyer.

Even still, I will say this: To the panelists, thanks for sharing your stories. I wish you all every success in your endeavours. I was most impressed with Henson Hunte of Fun Foods (Island Pops). He is all about satisfying the local market. How can Invest Saint Lucia help? Questions like these need to be answered. Nydia Norville of Choiseul has a fantastic product line; can we put her in contact with some angel investor so she can upscale her business? Are there any local angel investors, and if there are, can we be introduced to them? More questions. No answers. Please Invest Saint Lucia, take the bull by the horns and run with it. We need more.

And to the organizers, an ice breaker does not happen at the end of an event.

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