Monday, May 3, 2021 — Innovators, entrepreneurs and investors from across the Caribbean region and the world met virtually on Thursday, April 29, as part of the OECS Think Tank’s inspirational and immersive one-day networking experience.
Addressing the global audience from the headquarters of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) in Saint Lucia, Director General Dr. Didacus Jules set the tone for the event, inviting participants to “look beyond the problems we collectively face, to the possibilities that might be within our grasp.”
“Depending on your perspective, we who live in this historical moment are either cursed by the preponderance of unprecedented crisis, or we are fortunate to be presented with an unprecedented matrix of opportunity for a historical reset, for regeneration and for defining a new normal. Whatever your perspective on this matter, the most relevant conclusion to us in the Caribbean today is how we respond to crisis.”
Acknowledging that extraordinary times require extraordinary leaders, Dr. Jules stated:
“In the enveloping darkness of crisis, there are no beacons, there is no guiding light, there is no clearly defined pathway. In this fog, we all grope for directions, we stumble towards solutions. In that same situation, there are those who grope instinctively, not as much for direction as for understanding. They stumble through scenarios to find appropriate solutions. In the furnace of crisis, we are either incinerated to irrelevance and obsolescence, or we are forged by the fire to emerge stronger, tempered and able to face whatever comes across in a drastically altered landscape.”
His poignant words segued perfectly into the highly-anticipated feature presentation by Tyrone Wilson – the creative industry genius, who has scaled and pivoted over 4 companies and was featured on the world’s top-performing Stock Exchange by the age of 33.
Founder, President and CEO of iCreate Limited, a Creative Digital and Technology Training Institute, Wilson engaged participants on a series of critical questions for entrepreneurs in the current global climate, such as “how do we continue to innovate and build businesses in a period where business confidence is at an extreme low, where access to capital is not as readily available as it was prior to the pandemic, and some of our highest earners, such as tourism, are at an all time low?”
The answer, he advised, is our mindset.
Reviewing several decades of the 21st century, Wilson outlined a series of crises experienced and overcome by entrepreneurs and economies the world over.
“If we look at the history of things, and I'm sure with islands within the region, we have similar occurrences. Every decade we're faced with severe challenges, our neighbours [in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines] now are facing a volcano crisis. We will always have different battles to overcome, but at the end of the day, it's critical to think about the future, and think about what’s next,” he said.
Wilson shared the personal story of his business iCreate Limited, underscoring the critical importance of being dynamic as a company, especially during a crisis, and leveraging relationship capital.
“As entrepreneurs, we need to have a dynamic structure and a dynamic responsive mechanism, in terms of surviving crises and expanding our companies.”
“We have to look at strategic partnerships and we have to also look at internal talent development in our companies to ensure that we help to build the ecosystem in which we will ensure our companies survive,” he added. “That is the type of ecosystem we will need in this region if we are going to thrive post the Covid-19 pandemic, and if we are going to thrive in a fourth industrial revolution world.”
Held as part of the events leading up to the much-anticipated Sustainable Development Movement (SDM) 2021 Summit, the one-day event allowed participants to engage in thought-provoking keynote presentations; high-impact fireside chats; and side bars that facilitated one-on-one connections with fellow entrepreneurs.
Highlights from the day included:
Stronger Together Campaign
- The OECS’ Emergency Response for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Participants were sensitised on the situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, given the ongoing volcanic eruption and flooding, and were encouraged to support the OECS’ Emergency Response launched on behalf of the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Stronger Together Campaign. Learn more here.
- War Room Scenarios and Pivoting Business Models in Times of Crisis
Natalie John, CEO of the Dreamy Group; Liran Peretz, Co-Founder of Alty, Barbados and Shigam Inc; and Florence Dorsile, Founder of the Tandem Office showcased how they overcame, recalibrated and pivoted, highlighting what it took to get to where they are now.
Dialogue with the Caribbean’s Top Entrepreneurs
- The Science Behind the Magic: Unearthing the Entrepreneurial Super-Gene
Jody White, Founder and CEO of Slimdown 360; Trevaun Solomon, Founder and CEO of Project Jaguar; and Alex Straun, CEO of Genesis Payment Solutions, recounted how they made it through the pool of 165 applicants, laboured through the drilling OECS Accelerator Programme, had their business models scrutinised by world-class business coaches and mentors and ultimately made it to the OECS 2020 Pitch Room hosted by Daymond John.
Closing Keynote Presentation
- Trends in Industry and Lessons for Building a Successful Tech Business
Dr Ford Tamer, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, President and CEO of Inphi, shared his personal and professional wins and losses and unearthed the secret of growing Inphi by more than 1000% in 8 years, including unprecedented growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Think Tank participant from New Jersey, USA, with roots in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dr. Ilive Peltier, embraced the event's messaging and commended the OECS’ efforts to bring the region’s brightest minds together for collective and positive change.
“As a leader involved in creativity and sustainability, I applaud these efforts. I will continue to chant that within our region the imagination is vast, the diversity is immense and the skills and mindsets are valuable. Let's embrace each other in a collaborative effort to make the region a force to be reckoned with around the world.”
The inaugural Think Tank was held as part of the OECS' aspiration to fast-track the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union through disruptions, solid innovations and agility thereby fostering exponential growth and inclusion for all.
The free virtual event was presented via the vFairs online platform to provide an ‘in person’ feel to the activities. Participants were able to toggle between the main auditorium, where the keynote sessions were held; an exhibitors hall, to learn more about the organisation and upcoming projects and events; and the lobby, a more private environment conducive to one-on-one conversations with other entrepreneurs.
All of the Think Tank's presentations were hosted by Dr. Terri-Karelle Reid.
Learn more about the OECS Sustainable Development Summit here.
Find out about upcoming events here.