Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, September 28, 2020: Entrepreneurs, business leaders, senior government officials, members of civil society and other influencers from the Caribbean, and around the world, assembled in their numbers to attend the virtual OECS Republic Bank Sustainable Development Movement (SDM) 2020 Summit from September 23-24, 2020.
At the Summit’s opening ceremony, Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General, OECS, captured the spirit of the event when – quoting the lyrics of Bob Marley’s ‘Ride Natty Ride’ – he issued a rallying call to the Summit’s attendees to fulfil the mission and ignite the fire of sustainable development in the region. Derwin Howell, Executive Director, Republic Bank Limited, echoed Dr. Jules’ call by challenging the Summit’s attendees to create a culture of lighting fires of change and a burning drive to innovate across the region.
What followed these statements of support and encouragement were two days filled with over 20 dynamic, virtual sessions that touched on virtually all areas of sustainable development, from sustainable energy, to social enterprise, to education, justice reform and more. The Summit’s participants made the most of their opportunities to network and pose questions to the likes of James Ellsmoor, Founder, Island Innovation; Les Brown, World Renowned Motivational Speaker and Chinedu Echeruo, Serial Entrepreneur and Co-founder of the Love and Magic Company – to name just a few.
Still, nothing could detract from the highpoint and very last session of the Summit: the conclusion of the Business Model Competition which started in July when 30 of the region’s high growth potential entrepreneurs were selected to undergo eight weeks of capacity building through a virtual accelerator programme.
3 big winners emerged triumphant from the finals which took the form of a live shark-tank styled pitch session hosted by Daymond John, Star of ABC’s Shark Tank, and President of the Shark Group. Alex Straun of Genesis Payment Solutions, Saint Kitts and Nevis took home the third place prize of US$5,000; Trevaun Solomon of Project Jaguar, The Home of The Teacherpreneur, Antigua and Barbuda took home the second place prize of US$10,000 and the crowd favourite, Jody White of Slimdown 360 Ltd, Trinidad and Tobago took home the first place prize of US$20,000.
The SDM 2020 Summit revealed many truths about the Caribbean: the drive, commitment and unity of its organisations as seen in the cooperation between Republic Bank and the OECS; the calibre and potential of its entrepreneurial class as seen in the participants of the Business Model Competition and the broad network of interest and support for the region as seen in the diversity of the Summit’s speakers and participants. But most of all it showed a region with a fighting spirit, undeterred by the challenges of a difficult year and determined to chart its own course forward.