On Sunday, October 16th, following a closely contested virtual pitching session, three young entrepreneurs were selected as the winners of the Global Leadership Coalition’s second annual Caribbean Entrepreneurship Challenge. Marcella Jeremiah and Floyd Thomas, both of Grenada tied for first place and Zaahir Muhammad of Trinidad and Tobago took second place. They emerged from a field of 15 who started the internship and vied for the top two winning positions.
The Caribbean Entrepreneurship Challenge is an initiative of the Global Leadership Coalition (GLC) in collaboration the Caribbean Center of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL), and in technical partnership with 1M1B Foundation. The challenge was open to young people from across the Caribbean including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Haiti, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Business proposals were sought in the areas of agriculture, sustainable energy, climate change and cultural industries. A distinguished panel of judges selected some 25 budding entrepreneurs who were invited to attend a four-day Leadership and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp held in St. Georges, Grenada in June 2016, at the end of which 15 entrepreneurs were selected to participate in a four-month virtual Internship run by the Global Leadership Coalition.
Over the course of the internship, the entrepreneurs were monitored by volunteer mentors, who held them to account for and helped develop their leadership and entrepreneurship. Mentors included the following: Candice York (Trinidad and Tobago); Gail Lalla (United States); Kevin Jackson (United States); Taka Juba (United States); Luther Garrison (United States); Michael Alexis (Trinidad and Tobago); and Paulette Davis Alexis (Jamaica). On Saturday, October 15th, they presented the results of their projects to judges Enid Meleika Alleyne (Guyana), Dr. Ashley C. John (St. Vincent), and Aaron Grossman (United States).
Marcella Jeremiah of Grenada tied for first place first in the competition. She is the founder and General Manager of Grenada-based Reneescentsationz. Her enterprise is designed to produce eco-friendly scented soy candles which are longer-burning and have a longer-lasting scent. Over the course of the challenge, Marcella created three jobs and has plans to expand further.
Floyd Thomas, also of Grenada, tied with Ms. Jeremiah for first place. His enterprise is called Soursop Eden, which aims to supply high-quality fruit and leaves at reasonable prices in Grenada, other parts of the Caribbean, and elsewhere. The soursop plants will be grown using 100% organic manure.
Zaahir Muhammad of Trinidad and Tobago came in second as the runner up. His enterprise, entitled Z Paddlers Co., provides a youth development dragon boat programme. The programme is used to foster team work among young people and to develop them physically, mentally, and socially. He also aims to help the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to grow the sport of Dragon Boating to the Olympic level.
The other semi-finalists who remained through to the end of the challenge were: Adrian Watson (Jamaica), and Maryam Tawfiq(Grenada).
Mary Symmonds, co-Founder of the Global Leadership Coalition, acknowledged all the participants on behalf of her partners, the Center of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods and technical partner, 1M1B Foundation, without which the Challenge would not have succeeded. She congratulated the entrepreneurs for their tireless work throughout the four-month internship, and recognized the leadership and entrepreneurial skills they developed, including being:
Unstoppable and Innovative – Overcoming challenges and following through with their projects
Results-Oriented – Focusing on achieving their 4 month goals while laying the groundwork for the sustainability of their enterprises
Adaptable – Making necessary course adjustments and using the tools acquired during the training
Coachable – Responding to the coaching and mentoring they received
Accountable, Reliable and Disciplined – Participating in the training sessions and completing the online training course, using the knowledge they gained to enhance the feasibility and sustainability of their enterprises
The Global Leadership Coalition aims to develop a new type of leader that is ethical, socially conscious and entrepreneurial while making a difference in their communities, countries and throughout the world. Through its partnership with the Caribbean Center of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL), it aims to reach young people throughout the Caribbean. It also aims to impact the job creation goals of the Caribbean and elsewhere.
Matthew Callahan is a freelance Social Media manager, web designer, and writer. A Breaking Bad addict and irritatingly critical thinker, he lives in New York City with his wife and their two wonderful MacBooks.