Entrepreneurs on Montserrat and around the region are encouraged to join a new business portal designed to help attract investors and mentorship.
COSME, an EU funded program to support small and medium sized businesses in the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs), recently held a training session for the newly launched CaribConnect.net, a web portal to house Caribbean business opportunities for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, MSMEs. This training held in St.Maarten and attended by portal moderators from the Chambers of Commerce of Aruba, Curacao and Cayman Islands, the largest three OCTs, as well as representatives from the other nine OCTs on the COSME project was led by Leslie Abell, Managing Director, BiDx, the developer of CaribConnect.
Florence Griffith of the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and Nerissa Golden, a business strategist attended the workshop to learn about the portal and how it could benefit businesses on island.
“The platform provides the opportunity for entrepreneurs to attract investment and/or find a mentor. It is not restricted to the Caribbean and so it presents a new way to reach new markets and potential clients,” explained Golden. “However, you have to be logged in to the platform to get the benefits of CaribConnect.”
CaribConnect website portal was designed to empower and to connect entrepreneurs through information sharing and business matching. This training session coached participants on how to enter and update their country and company information, ensuring instant publication of their news and other vital information on the CaribConnect portal. This regular information sharing ensures content is readily available to make matches in a number of possible business partnerships.
The CaribConnect project commenced in January 2016, under the umbrella of the COSME project, in collaboration with BiDx and the 12 Caribbean OCTs (Anguilla, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Turks and Caicos Islands). Hans Verschoor, Ecorys’ Key Expert on Business Incubation stated, “The CaribConnect portal is a highly effective tool needed to provide a platform to engage a geographically dispersed group of small to medium-sized businesses in one horizontal working space. This portal provides MSMEs and entrepreneurs from the region the opportunity to improve their businesses through communication with mentors, trainers/coaches, e-learners, suppliers/clients, and the opportunity to connect with all kinds of funding sources, many of which are presented on the portal in a financial directory.”
The long-term success of CaribConnect depends on participants continuing to input and share relevant business content. This content sharing will improve the opportunities for B2B activities between the SMEs throughout the 12 OCTs.
The two days provided technical training on the portal as well as the opportunity to brainstorm about future development of the CaribConnect portal as the 12 OCTs continue to benefit from the portal. “The results from this collaborative effort have led to the birth of bright new ideas that will deepen the portals importance to the MSMEs.” said Leslie Abell.
The COSME programme specialises in the development of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the 12 Overseas Countries and Territories, and was launched on April 1, 2014 on Tortola, BVI. The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to the sustainable economic diversification and prosperity of Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories by improving the competitiveness of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in the participating Territories.
BiDx is a software company that creates online networks for institutions aiming to develop and empower their entrepreneurial ecosystems. During 2015, BiDx in collaboration with BiD Network supported SMEs resulting in $3.5 Million worth of investments through matching entrepreneurs with investors.