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Q and A with Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Program

What is CTEP?

Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Program (CTEP) is a program designed to identify talented Caribbean tech entrepreneurs; accompany them in an “incubation” period with workshops, mentors and services; and funnel them into follow-on activities (i.e. Acceleration Programs, Competitions, Trade-shows, VC and Seed Funding). CTEP is divided in three tracks, thus covering the entire entrepreneurial life cycle:

Idea Stage: The individual or team knows what problem they want to solve, and how they want to solve it, but don’t have the business acumen or tools to transform the idea into a real business;

Validation Stage: Startups that already have a beta product or MVP, a clear business plan, have a well-defined team with roles and responsibilities, and have some customers;

Revenue Stage: Businesses that already have a consolidated product, a comprehensive business plan, a clear structure and well-defined processes, and consistent sales and revenue streams.

What prompted the creation of this programme?

CTEP was created in order to target two main problems in the Caribbean region: Lack of appropriate job opportunities, which results in underemployment and brain drain; and lack of a regional strategy to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, which results in job opportunities being lost, and entrepreneurial talent trying their luck elsewhere.

Will the programme be expanded to all Caribbean countries?

CTEP is the result of an agreement between the Caribbean Development Bank and the World Bank with a specific focus on OECS countries and Barbados and Haiti. The program started last year, supporting Caribbean entrepreneurs going through the Start-Up Jamaica second cohort and Caribbean animators attending KingstOOn Festival, and will finish June 2017, with CTEP Regional Competition.

Why do we need tech entrepreneurship?

In the past decade, global economic shocks coupled with natural disasters left most Caribbean countries with zero to negative growth and high unemployment rates. Notwithstanding, it is recognised that the mismatch of skill sets when compared with the fast changing labor market is one of the reasons for underemployment in the Caribbean region, particularly among youth; as a large percentage of unemployed youth possess both secondary and tertiary level academic qualifications. The virtual economy and tech entrepreneurship therefore present a unique and attractive opportunity for young Caribbean entrepreneurs, tackling dependency on foreign currency, increasing foreign investment, while reducing brain-drain and underemployment.

Is the Caribbean too slow in keeping with tech advances?

The Caribbean region has a commendable history of providing scientific and technological research for use in both local and international industries. However, commercialising Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) remains a challenge and even more so developing a culture of STI entrepreneurship, as securing financing for innovation and firm’s inability to wait for long periods of time (perceived or real) before investments can be recovered or a positive return realised, have been identified as critical obstacles to innovation. CTEP aims to plant the seed of a tech entrepreneurship ecosystem and financial environment in the region that helps address some of the problems mentioned above.

How do you respond to someone who says, “we consume way more than we create.”

I would say he/she might be right, due to the response in question 5, and other parameters. In order to revert this situation, in 2015 the World Bank and the Government of Jamaica signed the project Youth Employment in Digital and Animation Industries (YEDAI), a USD 20 million loan that aims to develop the animation and IT Entrepreneurship industries in Jamaica, and thus reduce Jamaica’s dependency on tech imports, transforming Jamaicans from technology consumers to technology creators. CTEP is designed to leverage the activities under the YEDAI project, and extend its impact to OECS countries and Barbados and Haiti. One of the outcomes in the YEDAI project is the program Start-Up Jamaica, a physical incubator for early stage tech companies that has proven to be a big success and an important milestone of the project.

Who are some of the big business and mentors in the program?

CTEP is currently finalising partnership agreements with other initiatives in the region, including Start-Up Jamaica, in order to leverage the networks already created, and make those services available to a wider public in OECS, Barbados and Haiti. CTEP will announce the relevant agreements soon via website and social media.


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