Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Trindad + Tobago is led by the Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT). We caught up with the country's GEW National Host, Shedron Collins, to discuss the country's ecosystem pre and post the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how GEW will play a critical role in navigating the new entrepreneurial trajectory. Collins believes GEW's myriad of events and global themes—Ecosystems, Education, Inclusion and Policy—will help entrepreneurs reshape and pivot their businesses to a new post-pandemic "normal."
This article is part of a series highlighting successful GEW hosts from around the world.
ABOUT GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK
GEN: When did you decide to get involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week and why?
Collins: The Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago has been successfully holding the reigns as the local host here in Trinidad and Tobago for the last 10 years. Being the local GEW host synergizes well with the mandate of our organization as it enables us to engage other ecosystem partners in a holistic and sustainable manner.
GEN: How does GEW support the other work that your organization does?
Collins: GEW supports the work done by YBTT at multiple levels as we’re uniquely positioned to further strengthen our relationships with our partners even beyond GEW. In fact, this approach has made it easier for us to galvanize support that redounds to an enhanced ecosystem.
GEN: What do you have planned for your first GEW?
Collins: This is our tenth time hosting GEW. As indicated above, the common thread in our annual commemoration always focuses on sustainable ecosystem development.
GEN: What do you hope to achieve with GEW 2020?
Collins: This year, we hope to achieve an even larger celebration of entrepreneurship than previous years. We hope that GEW will be warmly embraced by event partners and the diverse audiences who have been contributing their time and effort tirelessly over the years. Our ultimate goal is to work diligently towards achieving success and sustainability in every event that would be hosted this year.
ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY'S STARTUP ECOSYSTEM
GEN: Tell us about the startup ecosystem in your country. What are its main characteristics? If you could change one thing to make it better, what would it be? Who are the stars of your country’s ecosystem?
Collins: Trinidad and Tobago’s startup ecosystem is sustainable as it’s strongly supported both at public and private sector levels. It’s characterized by a diverse group of ecosystem players who offer various types of support services that entrepreneurs are seeking. The one thing that we’d like to see some improvement on is in the area of access to funding.
GEN: Tell us about your organization. What does it do to support entrepreneurs and/or grow your startup ecosystem?
Collins: Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT), is an accredited member of Youth Business International (YBI), an international network of youth business programs. It was incorporated as a non-profit organization and registered as a charitable body in accordance with the Corporation Tax Act of Trinidad and Tobago. The company was officially launched in January, 2001 and commenced its loan program shortly after. Our principal partnership is with the business community.
YBTT’s core function is to assist young people within the age group of 18-35, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to fulfill their ambition and contribute to the community, through the medium of self-employment and development of their self-confidence.
Our Vision: “Taking Entrepreneurship to the Next Level!”
Our Mission: “Empowering young entrepreneurs to build profitable and sustainable businesses.”
YOUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
GEN: How has the COVID19 pandemic impacted your country’s startup ecosystem? What measures are being taken to protect small business owners, if any? — And how do you think GEW will play a role in uniting entrepreneurs during this difficult time?
Collins: The COVID-19 pandemic has infused unique levels of creativity and innovation, which have propelled entrepreneurial development to untold limits. Ecosystem stakeholders, including YBTT, have been continuously assisting entrepreneurs with customized training and specific skillsets that allow them to successfully pivot their respective business models. GEW will play a critical role as hosting a myriad of events under the global themes of 'Ecosystem,' 'Education,' 'Inclusion' and 'Policy' would reshape the mindsets needed to navigate the new entrepreneurial trajectory.