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CARIBBEAN TECH ROUNDUP – Weekend of 6th October 2017

Caribbean Tech Roundup

Tech and the Internet Gives Caribbean Youth Global Outlook

The Link-Caribbean programme being executed by the Caribbean-Export Development Agency, is an initiative of the World Bank Group’s Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year, CAD 20 million programme funded by the government of Canada that seeks to build a supportive ecosystem for high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean.

The investment facilitation programme aims to enable early-stage Caribbean entrepreneurs to raise capital from private investors, particularly business angel investors.

In a previous show we learned that the Link-Caribbean Programme was at the half-way point of the two year project. I interviewed Caribbean-Export’s Executive Director Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton and learned that for once funding was not the project’s biggest concern.

For Once Money is Not the Problem!

So, if financial resources are not a challenge for Link-Caribbean what is? Coke-Hamilton explained that there was a shortage of “Bankable, solid companies to invest in.” and this was largely due to “a lack of size and capacity.”

So What’s the Solution?

Ms. Coke-Hamilton said “One of the things I think we’re going to have to look at is people linking and forming partnerships and joint ventures.” While, there is sound reasoning to her thinking, many Caribbean entrepreneurs however, are familiar with the phrase, that “a partnership is a leaky ship.”

Moving Beyond the Whole Grape Mindset

Sadly, too many of our entrepreneurs would rather have a whole grape than a generous slice of melon. In other words, they would rather have 100% control of a $100,000 business, than a 40% share of $1M business. I asked how this hurdle can be overcome?

Coke-Hamilton responded, “By changing the culture, and I believe it is changing. The young people are more global in their thinking, than our generation. I think that they see the world in a different way because of technology, because of the Internet, because of all the social media. They don’t see the world in small terms any more. So I think that there’s more of an openness and willingness on the part of the younger generation to look at those kind of ventures, to look at joining forces as opposed to the singular approach that we tended to take before.”

Ms. Coke-Hamilton, continued

She continued, “I believe that when I look at the young people now and I look at how they’re engaging the world and engaging through social media and the new platforms. Their willingness to move beyond the island is exponential, they are going out there, they’re doing their thing and they’re engaging and they’re willing to look at partnerships, so I think there’s an opportunity for us to facilitate that.”

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KPMG Bahamas To be a title sponsor of the Caribbean Infrastructure Forum (CARIF)

The event to be held in Montego Bay, Jamaica in December, follows successful KPMG Island Infrastructure summits in 2011, 2013 and 2015. The accounting firm is partnering with host IJGlobal, the infrastructure arm of Euromoney Institutional Investor, and New Energy Events, the organisers of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, to gather a broader cross-section of decision makers, executives and financiers to discuss the region’s needs, explore structures and partnerships, and introduce projects to international financing sources.

Dr Warren Smith, then the incoming Caribbean Development Bank president, predicted in 2014 that $30 billion would be required over the next decade to modernise the region’s energy, transportation, telecommunications, and water and wastewater sectors.

As the extent of the threat posed by rising sea levels and unpredictable weather patterns is better understood, KPMG said the need to invest heavily in climate resilient infrastructure across multiple sectors has become clearer. It added that $30 billion now appears to be a conservative estimate.

“We are very excited to partner with IJGlobal, New Energy Events and fellow title sponsor, CIBC First Caribbean, to host a consolidated regional infrastructure event which gathers the market,” said Charlene Lewis-Small, a KPMG (Bahamas) director and its infrastructure lead.

“CARIF is set to be the catalyst which will drive the flow of financing and investment into critical regional infrastructure projects now and for years to come, as it draws an expansive audience of project sponsors and developers, providers of multilateral and private capital, and regional governments.”

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Antigua & Barbuda PM Wants Cheaper and Better ICT Service

Prime Minister Gaston Brown has urged the telecommunication heads of the region to find new ways to meet the demands of modern ICT consumers.

It is just as important as the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the electricity in our homes,” Browne stated at the regional ICT forum held recently in the Dominican Republic.

In his presentation at the opening ceremony, the Antigua and Barbuda prime minister suggested that communication operators and providers in the region combine their technical and financial resources to accomplish faster broadband connections at reduced prices for the region’s consumers.

The prime minister disclosed that CARICOM heads of government have approved a draft plan for a single ICT space in the region.

He highlighted the importance of more efficient broadband connections and related services for increased regional security. He also emphasised the development of communication infrastructure as necessary for CARICOM to have

competitive edge in global trade.

Browne called for operators to claim some accountability for regional development goals. “Let us not mistake marking time, in what I call charming indolence, for progress. It is only movement on the same place. And while we stagnate the world moves on,” He added as he made reference to Chinese advancements of telecommunication systems.

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