In November 2015, The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) hosted an ICT Sustainability Forum at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre. This event was the culmination of a three year project between both entities which focused on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with the overall objective of improving business performance and competitiveness in the Food and Beverage and Plastics, Printing and Packaging sectors.
As the executing agency, CARIRI had the mission of sensitising over 350 companies; this was the first objective of the project. CARIRI went into the field and found companies that were interested in ICT or those that just wanted to find out more information about technology that could benefit their business.
The second step of the project saw the 350 companies being given an opportunity to have their business diagnosed. This meant that the CARIRI project team went into the individual businesses and did a thorough investigation of their ICT needs and developed a plan on the way forward. A total of 80 diagnostics were concluded.
The final stage of the project was the implementation stage. The proposed systems and software suggested in the previous stage were implemented in the companies. Some of the solutions that were proposed as implementations ranged from point of sale systems to websites to inventory management systems, depending on the nature of the business.
At the ICT Sustainability Forum, Mr Tomas Bermudez, the IDB Country Representative spoke on the tremendous success that has been borne out of the project in the specific sectors and the IDB’s commitment to continuing the ICT implementations is the new sectors.
Although the Minister of Planing and Development, the Honourable Camille Robinson Regis was unable to attend due to last minute commitments, Dr Rickhie Permanand was able to bring greetings and deliver a rousing feature address on her behalf. Dr Permanand spoke about competitiveness and Trinidad and Tobago’s own ranking in the global index, he noted that ICT created a bridge to overcome significant gaps and as a way to improve the country’s ranking.
Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI was able to further expound on ICT but delved into how being innovative can actually thrust you forward into a new way of thinking that can lead to empowerment for you and your business. He further explained that the programme’s purpose was to create a positive intervention with SMES to connect to the dots in order to uplift entrepreneurial capacity and increase competitiveness. He further stated that ICT must always be user friendly and CARIRI has strived to be innovative for such demands by creating easy workable approaches to software and hardware operations.
The highlight of the morning’s proceedings was the panel discussion hosted by Vashtie Dookiesingh, Multilateral Investment Fund Specialist at the IDB. This session was entitled ‘Beneficiaries Speak’, and the persons on the panel actually went through the three stages of this project and spoke about their experiences and their interaction with the CARIRI team. They all agreed that CARIRI aimed to understand their business rather than just providing ‘consultations’; they were happy with the results and stated that that they would definitely recommend this project to their partners. Also in high praise of CARIRI, Ms Dookiesingh said that CARIRI was adaptable to the consistent changes that took place working with different businesses and congratulated CARIRI for a steady governance and management system.
CARIRI team members were also able to showcase a few of the software that were developed in-house as a result of their experiences on the various projects. Specifically, CARIRI has successfully developed an application known as the CARIRI Box that is geared towards the health sector. This mobile application allows medical practitioners to access their patient databases on the go. This is just one of the many innovations that CARIRI is working on.
From the feedback received over the last few days, the programme was much needed and it was well accepted by the participants who were looking forward to the next session to be held by CARIRI and the IDB.
The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) is one of the three components of World Bank/infoDev’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). This is part of a seven-year $20 Million program funded by the Government of Canada through the World Bank to build an enabling ecosystem to foster growth-oriented entrepreneurs and profitable businesses that address climate change mitigation and adaptation needs throughout the Caribbean.
The Management Committee of CCIC is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Marcia Brandon as Chair with effect 10th August 2015. Mrs. Brandon will serve for a period one year.
Mrs. Brandon has been a member of the CCIC Management Committee since the inception of the CCIC in late 2013. She is a social entrepreneur and the Founder/Managing Director for the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods & Entrepreneurship, which is headquartered in Barbados. She was also Founder/ Managing Director for Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Youth Entrepreneurship (CEYE) from April 2000 – 2013 and worked from1998 -2013 as Executive Director for the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT).
She holds a Master’s in Educational Leadership from City and Guild, United Kingdom and Bachelor’s in Public Sector Management from the University of the West Indies. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, City and Guild, UK.
Some of her Key Achievements in Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean:
- Sourced over US$10million for regional youth entrepreneurship development
- Pioneered youth entrepreneurship development in the region to be recognized regionally and globally.
- Established over 5000 strong, durable partnerships for sustainable development with international, national and regional development organizations, public and private sectors, NGOs, CBOs, and individuals.
- Worked with CARICOM on creative, regional simulated training programs for at risk and vulnerable youth and women.
- Hosted, planned and organized the first regional youth entrepreneurship conference and awards ceremony– participants from over 25 countries, with international speakers at the UN House- 2003.
- Led Barbados Youth Business Trust to be named a Best Practice and Regional Resource Centre in 2000 & 2001 respectively by Youth Business International.
- Delivered presentations worldwide on youth and female entrepreneurship development including the Caribbean region, Hong Kong, Dubai, Latin America, Scotland, Ireland, the wider United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada. Assisted with the establishment of youth and female entrepreneurship organizations in the Region, Latin America, Syria, Africa, among others.
- Brought Global Entrepreneurship Week to the Caribbean.
- Recognized and awarded for contribution to youth entrepreneurship and development in the Caribbean.
- Developed business mentoring in the Caribbean.
- Designed and developed over 20 replicable entrepreneurship programmes to help the people of the Caribbean to effectively start and grow businesses.
The Management Committee of the CCIC warmly welcomes Mrs. Marcia Brandon as Chairman of the Committee.
Other members of the CCIC Management Committee include Mr. Meghnath Gosein & Mr. Ronald Dubrisingh (Trinidad & Tobago), Ms. Lisa Harding (Barbados), Mrs. Mona Whyte & Dr. Cliff Riley (Jamaica) and Dr. Ulric Trotz (Belize).