Q and A | Global Services Promotion Programme

Q and A | Global Services Promotion Programme

What is the Global Services Promotion Programme?

On January 27, 2014 the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, through the Ministry of Planning and Development (MPD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) entered into a contract for the Global Services Offshoring Promotion Programme (TT-L1038).

The Programme is expected to increase exports and employment in the Information Technology enabled Services (ITeS) sector in Trinidad and Tobago, through sector-specific training and support services, investment promotion and branding and capacity building to improve the business climate and regulatory framework.

A critical element of this programme is the establishment of the Global Services Internationalization (GSI) Hub which will entail the retrofitting and outfitting of a building’s interior and exterior to include a publicly accessible co-working space comprising collaborative physical and technological Infrastructure for students, professionals and local service providers designed to foster networking, collaboration and research and development, rental spaces for exporting ITeS Sector companies, a family room, flexible training and conference facilities and sector-specific shared facilities and services.

Whose idea was it to start this in Trinidad?

The Programme was jointly developed by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (specifically the Ministry of Planning & Development) with significant input private sector stakeholders such as the Trinidad & Tobago Coalition of Services Industries.

What are some of the tools and skills this programme will cover?

The Programme seeks to develop skills and competencies required by entrepreneurs and firms operating in the ITeS Sector. Based on our consultations with stakeholders in the sector, including those in TT AND those who have and/or are seeking to invest in TT, we are seeking to develop – by both increasing the quantity and quality – skills and competencies in the following categories:

ICT technical (and certifiable) : application development, digital media, animation, e-sports, cloud & infrastructure, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, IoT, machine learning, data science etc.

Managerial (and certifiable) : internationalization, marketing, project & risk management, business analysis, customer service etc.

Life skills (not necessarily certifiable): leadership, creativity, teamwork, team building, stress management, etc.

Is there a website?

We are currently in the process of developing our public materials including our various online presences. However, we are not waiting for this process to be completed to get moving. At this time, you can find relevant information about the Programme on the Ministry of Planning & Development website, the Ministry of Planning & Development Facebook page, and the Programme’s YouTube Channel – where you can also sneak a peek at what we’ve been up to so far. We have recorded live streams of a series of activities conducted in late November 2016 where one of our international partners, Google, has already visited TT and enagaged in workshops and hands-on activities with a selection of UWI, UTT and COSTAATT students as well as a sample of just over 30 firms and entrepreneurs in the local ITeS Sector through its “Launchpad” initiative.

How can someone sign up for this programme?

The Programme is about to issue a Call for Proposals where firms, entrepreneurs and training providers will be able to join with us to collaborate and participate in this Skills for Global Services initiative – a competitive process that is being designed encourage employer-led skills development partnerships within the ITeS Sector. To register to obtain further information, please visit globalskills.gov.tt

How are you going to measure the success of this programme?

Our success indicators are based on outputs and outcomes primarily focused on increased number of entrepreneurs & firms exporting ITeS (including new firms who have broken into new international markets), and the related quantifiable increase in the value of these exports and the contribution to the National GDP. Underlying these larger macro indicators we are measuring, among other items, the increased number of persons gainfully employed in the sector, the number of firms who we have successfully tenanted in the aforementioned GSI Hub and the number of successful graduates from the Programme’s Finishing School.

Q and A with St. Mary’s College (Trinidad) Computer Society

Q and A with St. Mary’s College (Trinidad) Computer Society

When was the club formed and why?

The St. Mary’s College Computer Society was founded in 2010 under the guidance of Mr. Louis R. Ramdhanie out of a need to provide IT assistance to teachers in the classroom at the College. Since then, it has evolved into a lunchtime meeting of gamers and computer enthusiasts sharing their experience and knowledge with each other.

What is the aim of the club?

The primary mission of the society is, “To encourage and promote the use of the latest technology in and out of the classroom to enhance the education process.”

St. Mary’s College has always been a leader in the use of information technology, being one of the first secondary schools in Trinidad and Tobago to have its own website – stmarys.edu.tt. To date projectors have been installed in most classrooms and high speed wireless internet now covers over 90% of the premises. Plans are in place to eventually equip all classrooms with projectors and provide internet access for everyone at the College including students.

What sort of activities does the club get involved in?

The Computer Society and its members work side by side with the IT department to help maintain the computer labs and equipment around the College. This way, our members gain valuable real world experience in the Information Technology field. We experiment with new technologies and develop ways to integrate it into everyday College life.

Meetings are held lunchtime every Wednesday in the Computer Lab.

Members of the society assist with quite a bit of stuff at the College from running the audio booth in the Centenary Hall during assemblies to videography and creating websites for the various student organistions in the College.

What technologies are taught in schools these days?

The Computer Science syllabus is somewhat restrictive and there is little time to stray from the basic productivity tools and programming.

What technologies are used at St. Mary’s college? (Any smart classrooms?)

At the College we do not have any full “smart” classrooms, in part due to the fact that teachers require proper training, relying heavily on the limited IT support at the College (hence the creation of the Computer Society). A few teachers use the projectors in the classrooms and some have their lessons online.

What sort of innovations are in the computer lab?

Currently we are in the process of introducing quite a number of innovations in the computer lab. We have just installed the Amazon Echo and we are using it to control the lights for the lab. We plan to obviously expand its reach to controlling as many devices as we can at the college!

We have also purchased a few of the Wonder Dash Robots and the Ozobot for use in Forms 1-3, where with the assistance of the Computer Society, we will introduce them to programming.

We are also in the process of acquiring a few Lego Mindstorms Kits to introduce them to the world of robotics.

The lab is also equipped with a 40ft wall which the boys can write on and use like a dry erase board when working on various projects. They really love that!

Is the Computer Olympiad still running locally?

Not sure. With the amount of projects we are involved in and the restraints of the curriculum it has been difficult to fit that into our schedule.

Anything else you would like to add?

We are always looking for sponsors!

Q and A with St. Mary's College (Trinidad) Computer Society - Lab 1.jpg

Q and A with St. Mary's College (Trinidad) Computer Society - Lab 2.jpg

Q and A with Caziq – Caribbean Music Streaming Service

Q and A with Caziq – Caribbean Music Streaming Service

How did you get started?

Caziq is an online streaming service that is focused on Caribbean content: music and soon video and other artistic Caribbean expression. Caziq will offer to listeners all genres of Caribbean music, including but not limited to, soca calypso, reggae and dancehall, parang, rock, gospel and steelband. Content from the non-English speaking Caribbean will also be featured. We intend to create the world’s largest online archive of Caribbean content.

The parent company of Caziq, Caribbean Riddim Media Archive Limited (CRMA), is a Caribbean based project that was founded by a team from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the U.S.A., with backgrounds in medicine, engineering, business administration, risk analysis, marketing, intellectual property and copyright law, sound engineering and music production.

The genesis of the idea was a love and involvement in music via music festivals and DJ-ing and the accumulation of a large music collection. This music collection spans many decades and genres, but our major interest has always been in the indigenous Caribbean musical artforms. Our team members lamented the poor access to Caribbean music through mainstream media outside of the Caribbean. It was not that one couldn’t find Caribbean music, but it was not always in the versions one would like as a Caribbean native and it was in small quantities. We also discussed the ongoing loss of musical content produced in the Caribbean since there was no preservation of these musical works for future generations. There was no one place that our musical heritage is stored.

The company was officially registered in 2015, in Trinidad and Tobago and the U.S.A.

How did you come up with the name Caziq?

The name Caziq was created out of our research into search engine optimization and branding and the intent to create a unique identity in the online space. We wanted a name that would allow us to register an original name, with a .com URL and also to have social media identity ‘handles’ that all match. We also wanted a name that has a Caribbean basis.

And what does the name mean?

The word ‘Caziq’ is a derivative of the Amerindian word for ‘Chief.’

What technologies are used with this service?

Caziq uses a cloud-based system for content management and delivery through Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Relational Database Service (RDS) and Cloudfront. This allows for quick and easy scalability of capacity as required. The website and mobile applications were developed through collaboration with our development team in Ukraine.

Why use Caziq?

  • A focus of Caribbean music and culture
  • Convenience – Our specialization in Caribbean music makes it easier to find Caribbean artists and songs
  • Access – An ever-growing database of Caribbean music available on all major operating systems and web. Caziq already has the largest catalog of high quality steelband recordings online
  • It’s about the music – a listening experience uncluttered by advertising. In the free ad-supported version our algorithm will place ads in the stream randomly without placing multiple ads in succession. Ads will be limited to a preset total duration per hour.
  • Our music, our way – Playlists curated by the Caribbean DJs, artists and producers.
  • The authentic sound and feel of the Caribbean
  • Familiar Search – search for music using familiar terms and phrases, as well as by genre, year, country of origin, artist or album
  • Song Discovery – discover new music based on your searches and listening preferences
  • ‘Talk Radio’ – A ‘talk radio’ stream for lovers of Caribbean current affairs talk shows
    Mixtape Stream – authentic Caribbean DJ mixes from the Caribbean top DJs in different genres

How do you plan to monetise the service?

Caziq will be supported by advertising in the free option, where users will be able to listen to music with audio ads interspersed between songs. A subscription service will also be available. For US$ 5.99 a month, users can listen to the extensive Caziq catalog ad-free.

Anything else you would like to add?

Intellectual property issues are very serious to us at CRMA. As such at the core of Caziq is a robust intellectual property framework developed by our team and involving collaboration and affiliation with regional and international copyright organizations including the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS). This will ensure that all copyright holders receive fair value and compensation for their musical works and recordings. In this way Caziq will make it possible for Caribbean artists and producers to tap into what is now the music industry’s fastest growing revenue source, according to the IFPI Global Music report, 2016.

Where can we go to get more info?

Guardian article
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook : @caziqapp
riddim [at] caziq.com

Q and A with Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Program

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.