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LISTEN MI TECH ME NOW! Volume 1 | Issue 4

A Publication of 1









Where Entrepreneurs Come To Grow 3






From ‘The Brick’ to E-Commerce

In the technologically driven world in which we live, coding is an imperative skillset for your child’s future.

Caribbean youth need to be prepared for the dynamic future of industry, innovation and the rapidly changing world of work, together we can help to change that!

Technology is life! Words to live by for the tech-driven founder of kwikily.com, Jamaica’s Julian Greig.


30 The future of architecture


Before you even lay a brick in your new home, new architectural technologies can calculate your home’s use of water and sustainability.

Mobile payments are not the wave of future; it’s happening now, and your business could be missing out on additional sales by not offering this option.


Leveraging tech education has the power to influence human civilization.

23 TEN XTRA Fix your mind....and your business will follow.

inside ten

37 TEN QUESTIONS Ten Questions with the founder of Caribbean Power Lunch and business valuator, T&T’s Kevin Valley.







Failure; the Path to Innovation

Failure can foster Innovation, which is really about seeing the world a little differently and using that view to problem solve.

34 Digitize me CARIBBEAN Imagine a Caribbean where children are taught digital hygiene and every citizen has an E-signature that allows us to plough through the minutiae of bureaucratic red tape.

LISTEN MI: SOcial change is imminent Meet Jamaica’s Director of Women in Film and Television, Kenia Mattis, the tech head who has collaborated with Sesame Street & is using animation to take the Caribbean to the world.

44 Volume 1 | Issue 4 Producer/Creator: Selwyn Cambridge Editor: Belle Holder Coordinators: Andrea Austin, Belle Holder Photographers: Amleya Clarke, David Yearwood Graphic Design: IDS Creative Inc Illustrator: Shaquon Grosvenor



SUBSTANCE DRIVING SOCIAL INFLUENCE Find out how stylist and fashionista, Barbados’ Gigi Farier leveraged social media to build her brand and feed her passion.

Contributing Writers: Selwyn Cambridge, Ashlee Cox, Alyssa Amor Gibbons, Ayesha Gibson-Gill, Julian Greig, Belle Holder, Nadine A. Jack, Corey McClean, Dianne Squires, George Thomas


EDITOR’s NOTE Belle Holder Media & Communications Consultant TEN Habitat @belleholder246 bholder@tenhabitat.com www.belleholder.com




Pssst…there are technophobes among us…run! You know who they are, they live among us, your neighbour, your Mom, Aunty, Friends or colleagues, those who are just comfortable (or they pretend to be) to just ignore the ever changing advances of modern day technological; advances that strongly influence our everyday lives. According to the dictionary definition, a Technophobe is someone who fears, dislikes, or avoids computers and new technology, and is not able to use it with confidence. We have functional ‘phobes too, you know those who operate on the surface, kind of like knowing how to drive a car, but not knowing how to put gas in it and forget popping the hood, that is just a highway grid of Greek-to-me wires and connections. I am a self-confessed functional technophobe. I operate on the surface, my interest and function in technology is strictly fuelled by #FOMO…Fear of Missing Out. As the technology advances continue, I refuse to get left behind! I embrace positive information sharing aspects of social media, with Whatsapp and Instagram being at the top of my list. Anyone who knows me will tell you I use WhatSapp for 80% to 90% of personal and professional communication. I relish the day I get the opportunity to personally thank WhatSapp creators Brian Acton and Jan koum, both former employees of Yahoo! After leaving Yahoo September 2007, the duo travelled to South America to take a break from work. At one point, they applied for jobs at Facebook but were rejected. As is well publicized, WhatsApp was eventually acquired by Facebook in 2014 for US$19 billion; at the time, the acquisition was the largest purchase of a venture-backed company in history. WhatsApp is used by more than 2 billion people in over 180 countries to do business and stay in touch with family and friends, anytime and anywhere. 6

I share the WhatsApp story to demonstrate the power of tech, tech education, innovation, development and value, yes in dollars and cents, additionally the social and developmental impact on our lives is immeasurable! With that in mind I was the first in line to sign my kids up for TEN Habitat’s Kids Who Code programme. In this month’s tech driven issue of Caribbean Startup Scene, we learn more about Jamaica’s ListenMi Founder Kenia Mattis, a techcreative using technology to encourage social change and tell Caribbean stories. JamaicanBajan Julian Greig shares his personal and professional entrepreneurial journey, steeped in tech, from the day he first laid yes on a Motorola brick cell phone in the 1990’s, to now operating several businesses steered by digital platforms. From the land of wood & water to the island of the humming bird, Trinidad & Tobago’s Kevin Valley marries his passion for business, tech and creativity to promote Blackowned Caribbean startups. An investment banker who is also the founder of Become Investible and the podcast Caribbean Power Lunch, Kevin tackles CSS’s TEN Questions and reveals what it is like to be a son of a Caribbean Politician. From podcasts to IG, FB and twitter, social media influencers across the Caribbean are stamping their mark on the business landscape, post by post. Barbados’ Gigi Farier shares her slow but cathartic journey to over 10k IG followers and the ability to attract paid partnerships and collaborations. As we consider the future of our beloved Caribbean islands and the West Indian collective, we must think seriously about our children, our young people, those for whom we are creating future pathways. TEN Founder Selwyn Cambridge shares his views

on creating opportunity and access to tech education and encouraging innovative thinking for Caribbean children. This of course includes changing the mindset around failure, as Corey McClean outlines, ‘failure is the pathway to innovation’. The recently launched 10k Strong crowd funding campaign is an opportunity for Caribbean people at home and across the diaspora, to show our collective might for a common goal that redounds to each and every

Technology has the ability to and is creating a level playing field, one of us and the future of our beloved islands. We cannot afford to have our young people left behind in the tech race, we need to think and act quickly about learning to code, embracing FinTech, e-commerce, the transition to digital economies and using technology to create safer and more resilient housing solutions… our quality of life depends on the choices we make today about technological and innovative solutions. This is an exciting time! Technology has the ability to and is creating a level playing field, where we can stem the #BrainDrain and great Caribbean minds can live and work at home, while accessing international markets for growth and development of their businesses. So let’s work together, embrace technology and create access and opportunity for all Caribbean people old and young, all that’s left to be said and done is…#TechMeNow!




ARE WE STIFLING THE NEXT GREAT INNOVATOR? Selwyn Cambridge Founder & CEO TEN Habitat @tenfounder scambridge@tenhabitat.com

Are we suffocating the next Rihanna, Walt Disney or Steve Jobs? She’s a singer, loves fashion and adores makeup. He loved cartoon characters and animation and the other loved design and tinkering with computers. Which child today with these interests is embraced by our system and given the space to grow and explore? These are the very areas of interests, which led Rihanna, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs to global success! There is absolutely no denying that we live in a region, which has prided itself on its educational prowess, while nurturing an illicit affair with fear itself and the fear of failure. Tell your teacher you want to be a professional singer or cartoonist and they will tell you to study your Math and learn your Grammar if you want to succeed. Our beloved education system, which harkens back to the industrial revolution, continues its reluctance to embrace experimentation, learning differently and thinking creatively. Our youth are dissuaded from challenging the status quo or pursuing the arts over traditional careers and dreaming of the seemingly “impossible.” However, we continue to have on-going arguments about the changing needs of the workforce. The idea of robots, driven by artificial intelligence, and automated processes once filled by humans, are no longer farfetched ideas of science fiction movies. These are everyday occurrences, which very much make up the standard in many


industries. As we continue to debate the future of work, our youth still remain in an education system not reacting fast enough to our changing realities. Some of today’s most creative and innovative minded students with big dreams and outlandish ideas of new and emerging careers, find themselves in classrooms being taught exactly the same subjects their great grandparents were taught; reading, writing, math, science, history and foreign languages. Of course there is the active debate on amending how we teach to include technology in the classroom. However, I believe the issue is not on changing how we teach, to embrace technology in the classroom, but on changing what we teach. Future innovation demands that any discussion of the future of work should go hand-in-hand with a discussion of the future curriculum, which ultimately raises the question, “Are we doing right by our future innovators and leaders with a curriculum of the past?” I am not an expert on education, neither am I in anyway belittling the dedicated work being done by our region’s teachers. In my capacity at TEN Habitat, we function in a space where every day we see the effects of our approach to preparing our youth for a changing world. While the Caribbean school system has and continues to produce products of academic excellence, our graduates step into a world, which is unforgiving to those without the ability to be adaptive, resourceful and be creative problem solvers. They are byproducts of a school system that was engineered a lifetime ago to produce a workforce for a world that no longer exists. Today, a young

person running a YouTube channel can be a millionaire, an adult who tells jokes for a living can command millions and fill stadiums. The unmistaken reality is that today our approach to “educating” our bright minds, tramples on the very creativity and initiative our Caribbean young people need to thrive in today’s very globalized, digital and entrepreneurial world. We are undoubtedly faced with the critical imperative of re-inventing our schools for an innovation era. A student who enters primary

Our region requires a reevaluation of where we place emphasis school today will graduate from university in the mid-2030s, now imagine their career will last through 2060 or beyond. How are we preparing them to be adaptable and responsive to the unpredictability of a Caribbean in 2060? This reality creates a very strong argument for problem-solving, creative thinking, digital skills and collaboration to become priorities in our schools, however these core skills are not being taught today. These are all essential elements of creative and entrepreneurial thinking. We must fight the urge to double down on a century-old model, which embraces standardize testing and regurgitation.


Our young innovators are at crossroads and the paths they choose will determine the future prospects of the Caribbean we love. It will determine whether their curiosity gets smothered or their sense of discovery is unleashed. Our region requires a reevaluation of where we place emphasis and how we empower schools to foster creativity, curiosity, leadership, and collaboration. Would the Rihanna we see and laud today, be considered a success of our school system? Did we adequately prepare her to amass the success she continues to enjoy and are we equipping our future success stories with those  indispensable traits of the innovation era?

existential threat this reality poses for our countries in the Caribbean and our ability to remain competitive, safe and economically stable. It is time for our colleges to begin to prioritize short-term immersions that equip students with skills for emerging career paths. We need to place emphasis on developing the aptitude in every child for entrepreneurial thinking. There is absolutely no excuse for school leavers to be relegated to deadend jobs, or face the devastating prospects of unemployment. What about exploring microcredentials for live interventions, as part of a project based learning approach?

we must begin creating more adept problem solvers

These are all questions that we battle with at TEN Habitat and the work we continue to believe in and do every day! What we see is the boundless potential of our future. We are obligated to equip our youth with creative thinking skills, preparing them to become motivated problem-solvers, ready to take on tomorrow’s world! With the high levels of unemployment amongst our youth, we must respond to the


Whatever our answers, one thing is certain – we must begin the process of moving beyond highest GPAs, and the acquisition of advanced degrees, to creating more adept problem solvers, with more applicable skill-sets to move industries forward and create new ones. This will require lifelong learners who understand how to learn and how to build on old knowledge with new practices, that can create new approaches and better processes. We need to better prepare our next innovators and world changers. The survival of our beloved Caribbean region depends on it



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Our youth in Barbados and the Caribbean are at a crossroads. They are working to figure out the best path for themselves and their future. Unfortunately, most schools in the Caribbean continue to prepare students for 9 to 5 employment, rather than for the dynamic future of Industry, Innovation and the rapidly changing world of work, which they will actually face. Together we can help to change that! Being committed to the success of Caribbean young people, means we have to acknowledge that creating access, opportunities and pathways should not be the sole responsibility of government, but rather, requires collaboration and partnership. The Entrepreneurial Network [TEN Habitat] has committed to creating access for young people across the region, who deserve the right, the means, and the opportunity to realize their full potential. As a result, the crowd funding campaign 10K Strong has the ability to change lives. Caribbean people have a tradition of coming together to support our own. Today every young person who calls the Caribbean home needs our support to be given the chance to


Caribbean People at Home & Abroad Unite for Caribbean Youth with 10K Strong Crowd Funding Campaign

create their impact on the region we all love. We are seeking to mobilise 10,000 of us who lived, grew up or still call the Caribbean home to simply donate just $100 in order to raise $1 million to empower a generation and to transform our region. Let’s show the world that we are more than just a collection of small islands. Today very few primary or secondary school students in the Caribbean have access to tech education. Youths predominately are not exposed to coding until university! Their ability to dream big and know that there is an avenue in the region where they can realize their dreams, is not a widely believed notion. Every day when we open our doors at TEN Habitat we encounter another Caribbean youth with a great idea or an exceptional talent in search of realising their dream. Most of them are limited by their circumstance. Together we can help! Together we can have an impact Together we can open an avenue to make a distinct difference in the place, which has given us so much! We can impact an entire generation to change for the better,

creating opportunities requires collaboration and partnership themselves and the Caribbean we all love. No amount is too small, and as part of the Caribbean collective we can achieve the following: 1. Fund the training of 1000 at-risk youths in software development and business creation skills 2. Fund the training of 40 unemployed youths to become Software engineers and 3. Fund the ideas of 40 at-risk youth innovators to help them realise their dream Anyone Can Help and Everyone Can have an Impact! At its core the 10,000 Strong campaign is all about opening up a world of opportunities for disadvantaged Caribbean youth. This is a movement we all have total control over.

So whether or not you can donate the targeted $100, together we can still make an impact in many other ways: • Donate what you can starting as low as $10. • Help us spread the word to as many people as possible, everyone who you know that loves the Caribbean and wishes to help • Share this campaign on your social media to help us hit our collective goal • Offer to mentor a youth in our programme The 10K Strong crowd funding campaign will benefit young people through funding, grants and Scholarships. Collectively we can give young people in the Caribbean hope, perspective and encouragement while raising resources to fund their development






Julian Greig

It is easy to say that entrepreneurship has been in my blood from the time I was born. My parents always lived a wholesome and full life. One of the early life lessons that my brothers and I learnt from them was that having a corporate job was something stable, however to assist in expanding your financial and personal stability it was also great to venture into business for yourself. Over the years I saw my parents try various ventures across many sectors, including Data Entry Processing with a staff of over a hundred people keying information for offshore contracts, Real Estate, Farming, Coffee Shop, and owning a Barber Shop. My father worked in the Information Technology industry for over 40 years, which played a major role in my exposure to and appreciation of technology. While growing up in Jamaica I was keenly aware of the floppy disk, and the introduction of the Motorola cellular phone aka the brick. Our household was one of the first on the island to be graced with a personal computer back in the 80’s, this was major icing on the cake for my brothers and me! Over the years my curiosity for all things technology never waned, I was happy to tinker with any technology related gadgets, and read up as much as I could on what was coming next, something I still do today. It is no wonder that my entrepreneurial journey started with a business, during my time on campus at the University of the West Indies [UWI] Mona, Jamaica in the 1990s. There was only one


dormitory landline available and many nonnational students wanting to keep in touch with family, friends, and their loved ones overseas, grew increasingly frustrated by having to book call time as much as a week in advance‌I saw the need that sparked by light bulb moment! So armed with an Ericsson mobile phone, and the applicable published telephone rates, I started Linkup Limited, a business which sold mobile minutes to those who needed to make calls, with the necessary mark-up included of course. This business also gave me the first understanding of how easily technology could be leveraged with a reasonable investment, innovative thinking and a flexible infrastructure to address customers’ needs. My experimentation with various business models, and industries continued as I grew older, and although I had a full-time job, technology ventures always allowed me the

freedom of being able to manage them on my own free time. The most significant of these projects happened after I got married, and moved to Barbados in my early 30’s. This is when I launched an e-commerce company,

I knew the region was lacking a platform to highlight, showcase and market authentic Caribbean goods. Caricraft.com. Having lived, worked, and travelled throughout the Caribbean for the majority of my life, I knew the region was lacking a platform to highlight, showcase and market authentic Caribbean goods. This was targeted to address both the members of the diaspora, as well as the millions of


tourists who visit our shores every year. For many visitors, after returning home, they still desired some of the Caribbean goods, which they enjoyed during their tropical vacations, so we created access to those goods. Technology was the only way to solve this customer need, as conventional methods would have proven to be too costly to reach the wide cross section of potential customers. Having been told by many people that e-commerce was not possible within Barbados, I was proud to have done the necessary research and worked with a local bank to overcome this hurdle. In 2005 we successfully became the first entity to offer online credit card payment on our website to facilitate true e-commerce locally. This also benefited us in having overnight settlement into our account locally, enabling us to have faster access to funds to assist with our just in time inventory model. This business lasted for over 10 years, and led to many highlights. Caricraft was one of 10 businesses within the region selected for the Alpha Programme at the Web Summit Conference in Ireland in 2008. This was followed two years later with the Collision Conference in New Orleans, affording us exposure with other innovative startup companies, and seeking additional investment.

After my corporate career in a multinational technology company, and then an international telecommunications firm ended in mid 2019, there was no question in my mind with regards to what the next step in my journey would be. This has led to me leveraging my more than 20 years of skill, knowledge and expertise, honing in on some specific customer needs, and choosing the appropriate technology to address their challenges. Diversification would be an apt description of the current stage of my entrepreneurial journey, which is grounded in technology. As the founders of Wellington Greig Consulting we help micro and small businesses launch their own online or e-commerce strategy. With JNL Traders, we offer quality Caribbean goods to the Barbadian market via our online store jnltraders.com. The third business venture is kwikily.com, which is a service based company, connecting customers with service providers, this too is an e-commerce enabled platform. For me technology is life, and my mission is to ensure that we as a region, embrace and utilize technology for the betterment of our daily lives, as well as the wider society and economy. I will humbly continue to play my part in moving the region forward

Julian Greig is a true serial techtrepreneur & the founder of Wellington Greig, Consulting JNL Traders and kwikily.com connect @kwikily



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“quote unquote” “Almost everything with which we interact is being virtualized or digitized and until the ‘singularity’, coding is the medium by which we humans communicate with and give commands to machines. As a result, it is absolutely imperative that everyone at least has an appreciation of software programming because it is that which defines and changes our Digital spaces, interactions and transactions.” PS.The technological singularity is a hypothetical future point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.


Deputy Chief Information Officer & Senior Director of Technology FirstCaribbean International Bank



“Why can’t I do this online?!”

NADINE a. jack

How many times have you asked yourself that question when faced with some mundane banking or business administrative procedure, steeped in bureaucratic red tape? What would it take for the Eastern Caribbean to become fully digitized? One great example is the Northern European country Estonia, which is considered one of the most tech-savvy & digitally advanced societies in the world! It is the first country in the world to offer E-residency, allowing foreigners to start companies in Estonia without having to be a resident. Ninety nine per cent of Estonia’s public services are available online 24-7, including health records, electronic national identification cards and online voting, all of which are linked to a digital signature. After Estonia became independent from the soviet union in 1991, they saw investment in technology as a key way to boost economic growth, schools and classrooms were digitized and adult computer classes were offered free of charge. Today children as young as seven are taught cyber hygiene and coding (we should remark here



me Caribbean

that this early entry to coding education is also offered at TEN Habitat’s Kids Who Code Programme in Barbados). By the year 2016 the percentage of Estonian adults who use the internet skyrocketed to 91% from 29% in 2000. Also of note is that the telecommunications application Skype, was founded in Estonia in 2003, it was later bought by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. With so much citizens’ digital content, the Estonian government also put steps in place to protect online information. The system is flagged every time data is accessed and by whom.

Caribbean could become one of the world’s most influential economic players, if individual countries unite through collaboration. Gabriel feels a digital economy is an ideal catalyst

So how can the Caribbean learn from Estonia and transition to a more digital and efficient process of conducting business? The founder of Bitt.com, Barbadian, Gabriel Abed, has more than 15 years in the technological industry and is a key proponent of Central Bank Digital Currencies. He believes the

for Caribbean evolution as a global force. Currently living in Dubai, he has set his sights on global markets and he sees his West Indian grounding as key to international growth.

a digital economy is an ideal catalyst for Caribbean evolution as a global force.

Another Caribbean tech entrepreneur


...the Caribbean could become one of the world’s most influential economic players, if they unite through collaboration. - Gabriel Abed Co-founder of bitt.com

Stefan Clarke, who is the founder of Discover 246, a vendor services website, utilizes technology in both traditional and innovative channels. His businesses include a hydroponic farm, Healthy Growers, which utilizes a combination of technology and chemistry to grow sustainable agriculture. In reference to the possible digitalization of Caribbean economies, Stefan believes, “Some resistance will be met because people are generally reluctant to using something new, unless it comes from a prominent or revered source.� He acknowledges that a full E-transition will

Nadine A. Jack is a writer, executive producer and modern renaissance woman. Connect: linkedin.com/in/nadine-jack


be a lengthy process that is still in the distant future, however we can start now by implementing thorough IT programs, at the primary and infant school levels. Perhaps as individual nations and a Caribbean collective, we need to take a step back to go forward, by creating a robust technologically aware and competent infrastructure, beginning with the educational system and systematically evolve from there. The islands in the region must be proactive in their reception to possible digitalization, or risk their business practices, possibly becoming obsolete



4 1 3



Firstly, Mental Health & Mental Illness are not the same thing. Mental illness is what happens when you do not take care of your mental health. In order to advance your business, you have to tell people your business

2 4

Your Goals do Not get you anything nor get you anywhere, if you just keep them stored in your head.

In Entrepreneurship, community is paramount; so Find Your Tribe & Thrive!

Janelle Chase Mayers Founder of Cross Fit 246 & Chief Heart Operator; Fit Chic Movement



the Path to Innovation “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go…” American Poet & Essayist T.S. Eliot

corey mcclean Corey McClean is a Brand Architect, Entrepreneurship Coach & Speaker who builds brands from the ground up. IG: @that_mcclean_guy

Human beings are social creatures who evolved at a time when it was in our best interests to conform to the pack. Inclusion meant protection from predators and meant the difference between being an animal’s lunch and living another day. This human survival mechanism has become hardwired in our DNA and is further reinforced in school where we are punished or laughed at for mistakes. As school children, we learn to do just enough, or only speak out when there is little to no risk of being wrong, in order to avoid embarrassment.


In attempting to be innovative we have to go against millennia old conditioning and do the uncommon thing. We must leave our comfort zone and do something that may not work. People need to be allowed the space to mess up without fear of punishment or being ostracized. Michael Jordan has reportedly missed the game winning shot 26 times in his career. In order for him to become the Air Jordan American basketball phenom’ he needed to be allowed to take another shot. An employee will be much more willing to take a risk that may fail spectacularly, if he/she believes they would not be viewed negatively by their supervisors and peers. From an organizational standpoint, we have to embrace the concept that failure is an option… when you push the envelope, things break! It’s par for the course. Facebook is famed for having a sign on an office wall, which read “move fast and break stuff.” This mantra has allowed that company to redefine the way we interact with each other online and became one of the world’s largest brands. Any organization regardless of size, has to create an environment that not only encourages but nurtures this mindset, an environment of risk, test, fail, repeat, innovate. Google is famous for its “20% time” concept where engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their time working on projects that interest them. Adobe literally puts its money where its mouth is, allocating $1,000 to employees to test out ideas many of which never even see the light of day. Several companies go so far as to develop in-house incubator programs, tackling problems of varying sizes. Innovative businesses have to be measured by different metrics than ones with established business models. The success of an innovation cannot be determined only by profit and financial factors. Ideas need to be allowed to develop, grow, be tested and

modified without the pressure to “perform”, that a traditional business is subjected to. The Macintosh computer, arguably one of the greatest innovations of the 20th century was definitely not brought to market “on time and under budget” but in retrospect the benefits outweigh the time and cost overruns. When considering the concept of innovation, we immediately start thinking about gamechanging paradigm shifts, however innovation is really about seeing the world a little

we have to embrace the concept that failure is an option…when you push the envelope, things break! differently and using that view to problem solve. Elon Musk, is the American engineer and serial entrepreneur behind PayPal, Tesla Motors and the SpaceX mission. With SpaceX his team simply took a different view of how rockets should function with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. Rather than the bulk of a rocket being single use, they believed they should be re-useable - a small reframing of the situation. Based on that small reframing, they were able to ask the right questions. Seeking the answers to these questions took SpaceX to the brink of bankruptcy and financial ruin. This was a very real risk, but a risk that needed to be embraced in the interest of pursuing innovation


“Any plunge into the unknown is reckless- but that's where the treasure lies.” New York Times best-selling author & the world's leading high performance coach Brendon Burchard



coding makes the future brighter

So let’s start with the question, Can the Caribbean capitalize on the new work and business opportunities that seem to just be a click away? The answer is a resounding yes! ashlee cox


The way we think about work and connecting with others is changing drastically thanks to the growing accessibility of technology. Experts predict that within the next decade, the way the world exchanges goods, services and processes money, will be much more technologically driven. Gone are the days where your geographical location dictates the scope of your market, what you can offer or your customer traffic potential. Today, with the use of the internet, the world is a great deal more accessible. Using websites, blogs, search engine optimization (SEO), and the plethora of social media sites, the average business owner, entrepreneurs and freelancers can now make the entire world their oyster, branching out into new markets that just a few years ago,

would have seemed impossible. It is truly the best time to be an entrepreneur, because this digital renaissance is only picking up speed with no signs of slowing down, and the opportunities it presents are endless! During a tech-talk event held at TEN Habitat and live streamed on Facebook, Senior Software Engineer at Netflix, Harold Nyikal, emphasized that modern technology is enabling more people to work remotely, which translates to more business opportunities in different parts of the world. “So I think in about in a decade, and I don’t own a crystal ball, but the idea of you having to go into an office to be employed, is just not going to be the reality for many people,” Harold said. “There are people right now, here in Barbados,

working for companies in the USA and living here [in the Caribbean] full time.” Nyikal was one of the many who are able to work from the comfort of the Caribbean, while his employer and Netflix team are in different parts of the world. The fact that it is now common place for most of us to carry small, mobile ‘super computers’ in the form of our mobile devices, on which we can plan just about every aspect of our lives, is nothing short of incredible. So how has technology grown so much in such a short time? It’s due to the ongoing work of coders. Coders, loosely defined, are those who manipulate electronic or tech languages to create programs to run and perform specific tasks. During an e-conference interview with Vice President of Business Development at Code


Fellows, Mitchell Robertson, he stressed, “Coding is for everyone!” Using the example of a small business located in the Caribbean, he laid out how understanding the backend of your own website, could further allow not only access to more markets online, but also create a better customer experience. “If you have technical skills, software skills you’re going to be much more suitable and capable of getting your

coding is key to the caribbean finding its place among the many emerging global markets product known globally, just from a simple understanding of how to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO). More importantly you become aware of how to build your site, so that it has the right mapping.” Mitch added, “When someone lands on your site, they can easily find it based on again key word searches.” Code Fellows, is a coding academy located in Seattle, Washington which is partnered with the Barbados based, Source Code Developer Academy (SCDA), the first coding school in the Eastern Caribbean and located at TEN Habitat. One of SCDA’s students, 11-year-old Ethan Taylor, enjoys gaming and coding, his mother

Lynette Taylor, believes that this fundamental subject should be taught to children in the Caribbean from as early as Primary school. “When I heard about the Kids Who Code program at TEN Habitat I was excited about it because, I believe that coding is the language of the future.” Ethan’s brother Adam, a 21-year-old student of Staffordshire University is pursuing a first degree in game design and programming. Their mother, a PR professional shares, “Which ever profession our children move into, the technology education is going to help propel them further and I can’t say it often enough, we’ve got to move at a top speed or as my younger son would say, we have to move like Flash, if we are going to be on par or compete with the world.” For the Caribbean to truly find its place among the many emerging global markets, the ability to code must be introduced to and nurtured within children as well as adults. How can that happen when coding has been long held as only for the ‘elites’? That’s the beauty of the Kids Who Code program plus the adult offerings at the SCDA, these coding classes at TEN Habitat are open to everyone! Through these respective programs, coding is no longer seen as an exclusive language, rather, the proverbial doors have been flung open to anyone who is willing to learn. Software development has transcended its origins of computer science, weaving itself into the very fabric of our daily lives, thereby making it one of the most important languages that should be learnt right now and in the future


Ashlee Cox is the creative mind behind the blog ‘Ashlee Unscripted’, and the author of several books including ‘Releasing Fear’, ‘Embracing Life’ and ‘At The Edge’ Connect @ashleeunscripted Website: www.ashleeunscripted.com


YOU CAN LEARN TO CODE www.sourcecodedeveloper.com



the FUTURE of Architecture Alyssa-AMor gibbons

What if I told you that I could design your house, build it, calculate its energy and water consumption, and then alter the design to make it perform better, all without you spending a single dollar on the actual construction? Yes, you read that correctly...with new architectural technology, known as BIM (Building Information Modelling), your building can be conceptualized, and modeled in virtual reality (VR) environments before it is physically built. The architectural design can be tested, measured and improved digitally to enhance its performance before a single block is even laid!

Building Information Modelling (BIM) at work.


Simulations, such as those required to analyze the performance of the building, can be run in VR to give you a heads up on what the life cycle cost of your building could be. It means that not only will you be able to get a sense of the construction costs required to make your dream project a reality, but you will also be able to ascertain how much it might cost to operate or live in, over an extended period of time.

Accounting for every aspect of the building in the virtual world means that iterative changes can be made as many times as necessary. This is done to identify and compare the impact of different design options on the project budget and schedule. Even more importantly, the impact on the internal environment for the end-user, as well as the broader impact of the design on the environment can be assessed. The information within the model helps architects to optimize the coordinated building design based on several environmental

performance metrics that affect the overall sustainability and resilience of the project. These may include site selection based on factors such as flood risk mitigation, reduced energy consumption, improved water efficiency, sustainable and regenerative material sourcing, indoor air quality, occupant comfort, the overall reduction in carbon footprint, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions‌just to name a few. In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by Barbados, along with the

other member states of the United Nations General Assembly, as a call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. Goal #11 out of the 17 goals is to create more sustainable cities and communities by significantly transforming the way we build and manage the delivery of new architecture. With that said, and in the context of a world faced with climate change crises, delivering more efficient, intelligent and

responsive buildings is a must. BIM, with its computational abilities, helps us to achieve this. Added to the design capabilities of BIM, advancements in modern manufacturing processes and mass production are on the continued rise, but what does this mean specifically for the built environment? Well, cue the automatons‌the intersection of fabricating robots, 3D Printing, and modern Artificial Intelligence (AI), will almost inevitably lead to fully automated and computerized construction. Several


companies across the globe have already embarked on this journey of additive construction.

Apis Cor 3D printing the two story Dubai Municipality administrative building.

The direct potential export of the data-rich BIM model to manufacturing processes could mean significant reductions in material wastage and offcuts on site. One could even argue that reduced labour and equipment requirements on site would have a cumulative reductive impact on carbon emissions associated with typical operating machinery and transportation needs for workers to and from the site. It also opens the possibility for the prefabrication of building elements, from small repetitive units such as MEP piping and ducting, to larger integral components such as custom façade modules or even structures. This level of control over individual construction components is powerful. Typical 2D means of communication on the construction site – namely drawings of building plans, sections and elevations –

can eventually become obsolete, only to be replaced with IKEA-like assembly diagrams based on the virtual 3D modelled elements. Such is the case on landmark pilot projects such as Barclays Center and Botswana Innovation Hub by SHoP Architects, where the design-delivery of the building utilizes ‘fully automated, paperless, direct-to-fabrication construction techniques’ supported by an iPhone – accessible 3D database of the building’s components. Bearing exciting and investigative projects like this in mind, the merging of the physical and virtual realms within the industry is poised to push our imaginations to that of sci-fi movie proportions. Projects’ construction managers could experience the proposed design being projected onto the physical site, spotting variations in as-built conditions in real-time. Just imagine, construction helmets with VR capabilities that would allow labourers to fit prefabricated elements together over a virtual template – a digitized 3D puzzle reality! Although we are not quite ’there’ yet logistically as an industry, the fact remains that the technology platforms necessary to make such workflows possible already exist. With that said, regardless of the pace at which the industry is moving towards this next-level age of architectural advancement and digitization, it is perhaps more clear now than ever before that the adage ’form follows function’ will soon be transformed to, ‘architectural revolution will follow technological evolution’

Alyssa-Amor is an Architectural Designer & LEED Accredited sustainability professional, with a passion for creating innovate buildings that are responsive, resilient & energy efficient.


Connect: @alyssa.amor


We would love to hear from you!

Let us share the story of your business and your brand. You can also help us to discover interesting entrepreneurs and startups in your island and across the diaspora. You can also become a contributing writer to CSS magazine. It’s so easy for us to connect, send us an email, a WhatsApp or a DM

Let’s share each other’s stories and help Caribbean Entrepreneurs to go global! DM: @belleholder246 @TENhabitat Email: bholder@tenhabitat.com info@tenhabitat.com Whatsapp: 1246-230-1965 Tel (TEN Habitat Offices): 1246-621-7355

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LISTEN MI: SOCIAL CHANGE IS IMMINENT Let’s start by considering the numbers; statistics show that the Global Animation Industry is a huge market showing a worth of $259 billion USD in 2018, and is projected to grow to $270 billion in 2020. The Caribbean is just a tiny speck contributing to the market, but the industry is an open field with limited barriers driving talented storytellers, designers, and animators to pursue long-term careers in tech design. Enter the co-founder and CEO of ListenMi Animation & Design Studio, Kenia Mattis, a Jamaican entrepreneur who is making waves in the production of animation and design for cultural, immersive content. ListenMi’s aim is to take home-grown stories to the rest of the world and establish a profitable, creative community. She is a powerhouse on a mission to inspire social change through immersive storytelling and one who is continuously breaking barriers.


Kenia’s vision has been recognized both regionally and internationally marked by a string of awards and grants including the 2013 World Bank’s Infodev Award for the Top 50 Global Entrepreneurs in Innovation and Technology. In 2016 she won the DBJ Ignite Grant Award and that same year beat out 5,000 applicants from around the world, winning the Spark the Fire Startup Award at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in the United States. Three years later Kenia took the Kingstoon Best Concept Award in her native Jamaica. She has also been featured on the CNN International Passion to Profit series, served as a speaker at TedX Jamaica and appointed to Vice President of the Jamaica Film & TV Association. Currently serving as the Director of the Women in Film and Television Jamaica, Kenia’s success thus far is commendable, “In Jamaica, the animation industry is young and opportunities where other countries may

be able to fund a studio has not yet existed in our space.” Kenia adds. “Our strategy for overcoming such a challenge is not only creating a product with local significance and global appeal, but also using an approach that keeps the team flexible with enough downtime to produce content.” The ListenMi team is extremely excited about creating original content and this strategy has created room for experimenting, growing and sustainability to a point that it creates balance. The local significance, which fuels Kenia’s creativity is steeped in her passionate for story telling, for children and for Jamaican culture, which is demonstrated through beautiful illustrations, animations, images, voice, and music to develop. With ListenMi, she wanted to create a platform that is relatable for kids, as well as the wider Jamaican diaspora, allowing them to stay in touch with home-grown stories. For Kenia and her team to achieve this they have had to overcome the challenge of balancing client work with their passion for producing original stories that require significant time and financial investment. This home-grown Caribbean girl who grew up in the tourist resort town of Ocho Rios says she had a pretty normal childhood that included enjoying sunny days at the beach. Kenia was also a child who watched a lot of cartoons and commercials, and is still amazed that this is what she and her team do daily at ListenMi. She had her share of role models who helped to influence and shape both her personal life and chosen career path. Kenia’s grandmother, who taught her music; her grandfather who nurtured her values and inspired her to be a purposeful individual; and her mother, a radio broadcaster who molded her creativity and exposed her to media and production when she was growing up. Kenia recalls, “I’ve learnt a lot from observing my mom, being a DJ she would say use proper English, be careful how you enunciate and use your voice,” advice that has greatly influenced her discipline today. One of her biggest influencers in the industry is an American voice actor and radio personality Mel Blanc, who voiced Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and most of the other characters from the Looney Tunes. “Mel Blanc is a man of a thousand voices and he has always been an inspiration whenever I

direct or do voice-overs,” says Kenia. Today a lot of what goes on at ListenMi is a reflection of these amazing influencers in Kenia’s life. Her advice to young people who want to follow in similar footsteps is, “Invest in and practice your talent because you don’t know how you are going to use it later on…chances are that might be the thing that rescues you from a life you are not inspired by. Sometimes [in] exploring your talent and what you are driven by, you find your purpose.” Kenia is always driven by giving creative people a space to do what they are awesome at, and this has fostered new products, communities, and creative services. She recommends to others who are compelled by a particular goal, “Stay true to your purpose. This is what you would want to be anchored by when life gets tough.” Looking towards the future, ListenMi productions has various projects under development including the awardwinning animation concept, The Adventures of Kam Kam, the animated Lime Tree Lane series, and a short film in collaboration with Sesame Street. Kenia and her team have also launched Mek the Planet, a game world hit by disaster where kids read missions, build inventions and share them with friends. The impact of ListenMi productions, through these new initiatives, will create room for new jobs, cross-island collaborations and it will keep home-grown storytelling alive just as its co-founder & CEO envisioned. Kenia Mattis is truly an inspiration to all Caribbean women on the path of achieving their dreams


Jayme Hoyte is a Market Research Consultant & a Travel Enthusiast Connect @memebase100


TEN questions with


Podcaster, Enrepreneur & Business Valuator

He is excited about business, how to develop it, invest in it and teaching others the fundamentals of it. Trinidad & Tobago’s Kevin Valley is a chartered Business Valuator who is the host and producer of the podcast Caribbean Power Lunch and the founder of Become Investible. He is also a partner at Aspire Fund Management company Ltd. Who is responsible for valuing companies for potential private equity investment as well as partnering with regional financiers to collaborate on effective funding solutions for SME’s. Mr. Valley is certainly not all work and no play, just after Carnival his voice carries the raspy strains of revelry as he sits down with CSS Magazine for TEN Questions. 1. Your Business is Business and you have focused your passion around the development of Caribbean Entrepreneurs, considering the racial diversity in your native Trinidad, why is specifically the development of Black businesses in the region important to you? You are correct in saying that my business is business, I’d also say that business is my passion. I’ve always admired the power of business to change lives, create jobs, and create sustainable wealth. However, there were very few stories told of Blackowned businesses. I’m talking about businesses that I knew existed because I was a regular patron, but who you generally rarely heard about or found out about by chance. To me, there was a lack of empowerment in the Black

Shaquon Grosvenor @kenbr_art kenbreal@outlook.com


communities in the Caribbean, at least in Trinidad. This coupled with the persistent undercurrent and ever-present remnants of the colonial mentality inherently limit the possibilities of thought. Although people of African descent are the majority populations in much of the Englishspeaking Caribbean, we are not the persons who traditionally have the greatest power, influence, and wealth. These populations are typically expected to work assiduously, have wages, not wealth, jobs not companies, and stick to a “safe, secure” path. Despite the small size of the countries and populations, there is great stratification in the socioeconomic groups. Due to the lack of representation of the Black business class, it is not seen as a common or possible destiny. It is hard to be what you hardly see. This is why I became determined to find a way for Black businesses owners to be seen, to give them an opportunity to tell their stories, to tell the diverse stories of the Caribbean. I want to shine a light on the work of folks such as yourself and Selwyn [Selwyn Cambridge; Founder of The Entrepreneurial Network & Producer of the Caribbean Startup Summit] and others, and let the world hear your stories. 2. You often talk about the strong family foundation you’ve had while growing up, how important is early influence for future business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators and at what age do you think children should be exposed to business? Until my early teens, my mother had a bakery in Diego Martin where I would go every day


after school. I would eat a doughnut (not just one), drink some chocolate milk, and think about doing my homework. While I did that, I would see her and her staff count bags of flour, balance the cash register, etc. Why this is relevant is because this memory was only triggered when you asked this question. These childhood experiences cement memories, customs, and practices in a person’s mind that he or she can never unlearn. As another example, in my days as a banker granting commercial and corporate loans I would never forget the family businesses of various other races coming to my office during the summer holidays along with their 10-year-old kids. These kids would pay full attention during the meetings and negotiations and would be taking notes in their copybooks. It was not even a question as to whether they would eventually be integrated into the business. So to answer your question, I think pregnant mothers-to-be should place headphones on their stomachs and play the last season of Caribbean Power Lunch podcast for their unborn children! 3. The theme of this March-ApRIL 2020 issue of CSS magazine is Technology and Innovation, as an Investment Banker, who is also a creative how have you incorporated technology into your day-to-day business functions? I love this question! Too many professionals are sleeping on the power and potential of technology and digital media. Technology can make light work of big tasks. In the investment banking and private equity sphere, my main role is to connect with regional financiers to collaborate on effective

funding solutions for SMEs; a predominantly business development role. The way I see it, the days of relying on cold calling to generate leads is a thing of the past. Through my online presence such as podcasts, Become Investible content and social media posts, I have positioned myself as somewhat of an authority on business and financing, and have been able to build out quite an impressive LinkedIn network of business people and financiers. So when I reach out to financiers and say “Hey, I will be visiting your country next month and would like to meet to discuss how we can work together to fund viable businesses throughout the Caribbean”, very seldom would someone think meeting with me, will be a waste of their time. In November 2018, I released a podcast interview I did with the Managing Director of Aspire Fund Management Company Limited, the private equity fund management company of which I am a Partner. I had an existing relationship providing entrepreneurship content with a regional inflight magazine, I was able to have the Managing Director featured in that magazine in the March 2019, a time of year when a lot of people would be travelling at the tail end of Trinidad’s Carnival season. This resulted in significant social media engagement as well as two speaking engagements for Aspire’s MD and an increase in the profile of our young Private Equity fund management company – all through the use of technology.

4. What would you be doing if you were not a business valuator? I would be a star – I tell everyone that would listen that if I could sing I would’ve been world

famous. I love to sing but that talent missed me like hurricanes miss Trinidad and Tobago! If you’ve heard me singing out loud before, I apologize, but I will NEVER stop! That said, I’d still love to become a world renowned talk show host – this dream is way more achievable. 5. How do you handle failure? I think I have enough failures to cover this entire magazine issue. It took me twice as long as it should to complete the program for my Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) credential and a Membership Qualification Examination (MQE) having failed the gruelling four-hour exam in 2019, which left me with what I would describe as an undercurrent of disappointment and regret for most of the year. I sought help. Neuro-innovator and ‘Brain Coach’ Kheston Walkins, taught me how to block out distractions, double my reading speed and improve my memory retention. I was finally awarded by CBV at the of February 2020. I don’t think I could have gotten those letters at a better time. So how do I handle failure? I own it, digest it, learn from it, ensure that I fix the core problems that caused me to fail and 6. What do you feel is the most common thing missing for most of the Caribbean entrepreneurs you encounter, who want to attract investors but are not quite ready? Systems for continuity. At Become Investible, we deem an investible business to be a scalable business with established systems


that optimizes it for sustainable wealth creation. If you want to make your business more attractive to investors, you need: • Clearly understood & documented operational procedures with continuous training • Financial controls & reporting systems that aren’t purely people-dependent • Human Resource policies & systems that align with business strategy • Corporate Governance controls that ensure that directors & executive management are acting in the best interest of the shareholders • Succession planning – otherwise the biggest risk to investors is the health of the person that you look at in the mirror every day • A system of continuous innovation in its product and service offering • A clear sense of who its target market / customer segment is, with a strategy of how to optimize the value it delivers to those customers • A competitive advantage that is protectable, defendable, and not easily replicable by a competitor • Without having most of the above, most sophisticated investors will not be interested.

7. How important is mentorship in business? Mentorship is vital. Without good mentors, you are putting yourself at a serious disadvantage – it would just take you too long to learn what you need to learn. The clarity I get from mentorship and


coaching is invaluable. Do not stay stuck, get yourself a mentor. If you can’t find a good mentor, please reach out and let me help. 8. How important is T&T carnival & Festival Entrepreneurship to the island’s economy? T&T Carnival is the mecca of carnivals worldwide. This is where we see the highest number of tourist arrivals for the year. During this time, the established promoters and Mas bands generate lots of business and this provides opportunities for spinoff industries (decorators, security, costume designers, makeup artists, food vendors, sponsors, etc.). I do think however, that there is still a lot of opportunity being left on the table, especially when we start to think about media broadcast rights and data collection. However, advancements are definitely taking place in this regard. 9. As the son of a politician, the late Kenneth Valley, who many described as outspoken, forceful, strong, fearless, honest, respected and admired, how do you maintain your individual identity without being swallowed up by your Dad’s legacy and image? For one thing I decided not to be a politician ha-ha. In July 2018 I did a Presentation and Communications Master class offered by TV and Film Producer Lisa Wickham. It was facilitated by renowned, veteran broadcasting professional Dominic Kalipersad, who is the Group Head of News at Caribbean Communications Network Ltd in Port

of Spain. As part of the training, Dominic emphasized the point, “Do NOT play with your name…” you should always say your full name strong and with confidence. When I introduce myself to people in a business or social setting, I ensure I follow this advice, I accept and appreciate the respect that is given to my Dad’s legacy and I allow people the chance to get to know me and what I am about. I hope I didn’t make this sound oversimplified, but that is the result of years of introspection, advice, and getting more and more comfortable with who I am as a person and what value I have to offer the world. 10. “…life is a loan that you repair through your service to others…” This quote is important to you, why? This was one of my Dad’s favourite quotes and it ran deep into who he was as a person. My father was a Government Minister and this was a man who would take money from his own pocket to help a constituent in need. He would work through the night on those thick political briefs, then head straight to the Ministry of Trade in the morning to do the people’s work. That sort of passion is driven by something that is bigger than you. In everything that I do, whether it’s recording a podcast interview, negotiating financing terms for a client, hosting a wedding, I always remind myself, “Kevin this is not about you, it is about the purpose you are serving, the objective you are trying to achieve, delivering value to your audience” and this gets me out of my own head and focused on delivering my best at all times.

Tune into Kevin Valley’s podcast at www.CaribbeanPowerLunch.com and to learn more about his work with Become Investible & Aspire Fund Management follow @kevin.valley

11. Bonus Question: We see so many entrepreneurs face burn out, it seems for the past decade startup founders have been implored to stay in the grind and keep going and when you get there keep going further. How can entrepreneurs strike that balance between health and wellness and still maintain their business goals and dreams? Speaking of which, what do you do to unwind when you are away from the office, what is it that keeps you sane? Am I allowed to promote casual and responsible alcohol consumption here? Burnout is as real as the struggle and you have to allow yourself the time to rest. Getting proper sleep is vital. That said, I love to travel to different countries as much as possible for a temporary change of scenery. To me there are few things more relaxing than being in a different environment, where you can just sit, drink something nice, have a conversation with someone with a completely different life experience, and not have to watch the time go by and feel like you are supposed to be doing something else. Most importantly, always schedule breaks




MOBILE PAYMENTS AyesHa Gibson-gill

Right now there are multiple players in the Caribbean mobile payments ecosystem. Across the region some of the players in the mobile payment market include Island Pay and Kanoo in The Bahamas, Mobile Edge Solutions in Jamaica, mMoney in Barbados, CaribePay in St. Kitts & Nevis and WiPay, which is in Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, St. Lucia and Jamaica. The flight of international commercial banks from the region leaves a supply gap in the ecosystem. Narrower and more expensive access to international transactions is extremely prohibitive for Caribbean businesses looking to scale up. Even for better capitalised and more established companies the hit to the bottom line can be serious. Small or medium sized enterprises (SME’s) can face depleted income. For some, non-cash payments are not an option, which can result in loss of sales due to the inability to process credit and debit payments, while those that exercise that option face high transaction fees. So where do these E-payment providers focus their growth potential in the varied market? In one simple answer‌foreign exchange fees!


Mobile payment service providers and other Fintech providers can fill this gap and potentially fulfil many of the lofty goals subscribed to by developmental agencies; these goals include financial inclusion of the ‘unbanked’ and ‘under-banked’, development of micro and small enterprises, and intermediation (international payment transactions). Further, standardized operations and regulation is the key to if, when and how these lofty goals can be achieved. Who currently makes the money from online payments in the Caribbean? Here’s how things are stacked up; Republic Bank recently bought a substantial stake in a subsidiary of WiPay. Island Pay is partnered with a traditional financial institution; AF Holdings. CaribePay touts a service that does not need a bank account and mMoney is powered by Bitt, which is now working on making inroads with central banks to mint digital currencies. Recent studies and trials have identified some of the challenges specific to the Caribbean’s SME’s when it comes to engaging with mobile payments. Take note that M-Pesa and similar companies are not without criticism in relation to their wealth extraction operations being eerily similar to colonialism. Perhaps the lesson here is to strengthen and support

regionally developed mobile payment and Fintech actors. To this end the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and the Central Bank of Barbados recently launched experimental initiatives, Regulatory Sandbox and Eastern Caribbean Digital Currency DXDC through which they will draft regulations specific to the emerging Caribbean Fintech environment. It does seem like more traditional financial institutions may be getting on board and securing their place in the potential future profits of mobile payments. Perhaps the Central Banks of the region will commit to widespread creation and issuance of their own interoperable digital currencies, opening the mobile payments field to full-on Fintech competition in each territory. Alternatively, the multiple Caribbean based Fintech players could pool their individual expertise on a territorial operational landscape, raise capital as a group and become as a collective, one of the handful of pan Caribbean institutions. One thing is for sure, as a Pan Caribbean all 42.2 million of us must take steps today, to be better positioned to take on a more digitized E-future


Ayesha is a creative arts manager, producer, writer & performer & a self-confessed bookworm




When Substance Drives Social Influence What she’s really aiming to build is a brand that, “Inspires people to action, evolves them, uplifts them, and empowers them!” With that expressed desire, a quick glance at Gigi Farier’s thoughtfully curated Instagram grid, with images of herself individualistically styled and sprinkled with motivational quotes, may give you the impression that she’s a fashion blogger, however what she really wants to do is effect her followers in a positive way. The self-confessed fashionista who once ran a styling business, is a Paul Mitchell trained full-time hair stylist, and is also a singer in her own right. Self-expression through fashion and writing, drove Gigi’s earliest contributions on social media via Myspace and blogging years ago. With currently 10.5K Instagram followers and counting, she has been steadily climbing the social media influencer rungs in Barbados. She confesses that it’s only within the last six to seven months that she’s seen a higher rate of growth, nonetheless long before that, businesses had begun noticing the level of engagement Gigi garnered from her followers and she started benefiting from

DIANNE SQUIRES Dianne Squires is a Bajan brand explorer, marketing communications consultant, and podcaster www.diannensquires.com

paid partnerships. Overall though, follower growth was pretty slow and she explains why that made sense for her, “It takes time to build anything of substance, so if I had just posted pictures with [me in] swimsuits, or gym stuff with me doing deadlifts and squats my following would have grown in a couple months because it’s pictures of your bum, but I was like, no! I’m doing something of substance.” Gigi did her research and discovered: swipe up is the only way to get a direct link from your Instagram to your other web properties… and, it’s available in STORIES, if you have 10K followers. Following this discovery, attaining 10K followers became a goal. As Gigi sets new goals, the idea of substance still drives her content. After a 2017 health scare, she reflected on how Barbadian women often avoid talking to each other about the very experiences that could help them learn valuable lessons from each other. Although she sees herself as a private person, she felt compelled to use social media to, “Share lessons”.


In her #wakeuptowisdom IGTV vlog, Gigi tackles themes like moving from inspiration to action, pressing through failure, and getting out of dysfunctional relationships, which she calls “situationships”. She is frank but conversational, often making reference to her own experiences and the response has been telling. She made this observation, “I think that no matter how different we are, there are certain things that we have in common. My following started growing a lot when I started sharing more of my most truthful and vulnerable self on social media. I also think that video platforms help because people do not pay attention to things that are written in the same way that they do video or to something they can listen to.”

Harping about her love of shoes and fitness, the stylist explains that her ambassador roles with local shoe retailer Sole Addiction and First Fitness Gym, are perfect for her, as she was already a happy patron of both entities and more recently signing on with Senses Marché restaurant. However, Gigi remains selective about other potential partnerships, in order to maintain a cornerstone of what her brand stands for, “Truth and authenticity”. She cringed slightly as she said the word, “authenticity” explaining, “It’s such a buzzword in social media circles.” And she’s right, a quick Google search for the term “authenticity + social media” yields 170 million results, many of them marketing blogs, attempting to explain how to make your brand more “relatable”…another buzzword. According to Forbes.com contributor and psychotherapist, Amy Morin, “To be an authentic person, what you say and what you do must line up with what you believe”, a definition, which seems in line with who Gigi is and what she reflects on social media. Recently, Gigi was nominated for a GineOn.com People’s Choice Award for best social media personality.

no matter how different we are, there are certain things that we have in common.

Incidentally, the Barbadian social media influencer has recently taken the #wakeuptowisdom concept to the podcasting medium, where she will include interviewees. As for the fashionable images, she of course styles herself and is quite self-sufficient at taking her own photos by putting skills learnt in a photography course to use. The result? Less cost and faster turnaround time. Gigi emphatically expresses that she has always bought the majority of her clothing locally and has always sought to drive more business to the places where she shops, as her way of contributing to the economy.


For others seeking influencer status or just wanting to share on social media, Gigi gives three pieces of advice, “Come from a truthful place, be committed to as much excellence as is possible at the time and be really, really consistent.”


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