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The annual Caribbean Startup Summit, which strives to “Empower Entrepreneurs of the Future”, took place last month in Bridgetown Barbados. The event offers entrepreneurs from the Caribbean (an often-underserved region) the opportunity to hear from professionals in the startup world and beyond. Now in its fourth year, the two-day conference under the theme “Mindset, Skillset and Reset” was jam-packed with inspiration and education from professionals from as far afield as the U.K. and Canada. Founded by local business strategist Selwyn Cambridge, the summit is fast-becoming one of the most sought-after startup events in the region.
Day one’s program schedule offered inspirational opening remarks by Cambridge but also some wonderful words from the honorable Dwight G. Sutherland Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Commerce of Barbados.
Held at the beautiful Limegrove Cinemas in the Holetown section of Barbados, the program offered attendees two different tracks to fill their entrepreneurial needs. The Mindset, Skillset, Reset themes were a great way to segment all that the summit had to offer. Mindset talks mostly focused on the entrepreneurial spirit. For example, Chitra Anand, a communications and marketing executive, formerly of Microsoft Canada shared ideas around “Uncovering the thinking and power behind Intrapreneurship” in a talk that enticed the founders with great insights on how to can flex their entrepreneurial muscles even within a corporate structure. Baiju Solank’s talk “Developing your Inner and Outer Game”, distilled the steps entrepreneurs needed to take to develop a winning mindset for success.
The topic of intrapreneurship or working within a corporate environment to further your own entrepreneurial pursuits was skillfully and masterfully discussed in a panel featuring Kimberly Hill and Rovina Broomfield of Amazon. The pair discussed how they were able to bring the project Textures and Hues, which offers hair products for people of color to life within the Amazon ecosystem.
Like any other event worth its salt, The Caribbean Startup Summit featured a pitch competition where founders were able to present their ideas to a panel of judges. Founders from across the Caribbean were able to sign up and pitch their startups. It was refreshing to see the range of potential businesses in this developing tech ecosystem. The winner “Penny Pinch” walked away with the prize of free marketing, business support, and possible funding.
Day two kicked off with a Social Media masterclass from the marketing team of Facebook and Instagram and ended with a passionate discussion on “The Changing face of Startup Investing”. The panel was moderated by Karen Y Johns of The Johns Group and panelists discussed social impact investing and how the philanthropy has taken a new place in investing and is earning financial returns for investors while creating social change.
Other highlights included “Digital Transformation & Startups”, a panel that saw members discussing how technologies are changing industries and what it could mean for startups. Entrepreneurs were allowed to ask panelists questions at the end of the panel and this made for a rousing discussion.
The day ended with a wonderful beach bonfire and breadfruits just outside of the Infinity on the Beach hotel. Speakers and attendees were able to connect casually and network until late in the evening. The work that is being done by Ten Habitat is impressive. When we think of underrepresented and underestimated entrepreneurs, we should remember the Caribbean and the work that Tent Habitat is doing to create a thriving startup ecosystem.
This year’s summit took place on May 24 – 25. Check out the summit website here.
Sian Morson is an investor, startup advisor and entrepreneur. Follow Sian on Twitter @sianmorson