SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Islandpreneur Live 2020 was a success. This 3-day virtual summit attracted 650 registrants from more than 35+ countries, of which the majority were Caribbean countries. Unexpected, were those who attended the summit from India, Brazil, Morocco, and Austria. A world map highlighting where registrants came from and a listing of the countries were shared on the last day of the summit.
Hosted by Ife Badejo of Produce Wealth Revolution (PWR) Agency, this summit was designed to empower Caribbean entrepreneurs to thrive in the digital world and be more resilient. The organizing team included Dwayne Griffith, Chief Impact Officer of PWR Agency, Kerai Kreative Style who focused on strategic marketing, and Optimize Curacao who designed the website and managed its search engine optimization (SEO).
Shekina Dare from Central Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten, played an important role as well in the organization of the event, helping to secure speakers. During the event, the hybrid team expanded to include both ‘in-person’ and remote volunteers. Local media company, Aicon Media, covered the entire three (3) days to capture photos and video of this unprecedented experience.
The summit was streamed live from the offices of TelEm Group, the official telecom partner for Islandpreneur Live 2020. There was stable internet over the course of the three day and no glitches caused by the internet. Many attendees gave the feedback that they were impressed that there was no faulty connectivity as that often happens even in bigger virtual productions.
In addition to ensuring that the organizers were properly connected to the 25 speakers from around the world and hundreds of attendees, TelEm Group provided dedicated tech and marketing support through the event. This meant that minor challenges were swiftly addressed and that they covered “behind scenes”.
The virtual summit opened with a welcome word from Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications of Sint Maarten, Honorable Ms. Ludmila de Weever, who holds degrees in economics and international relations. The Minister praised the organizers for hosting such an event to help inspire and create connections to facilitate entrepreneurship. Minister de Weever explained that entrepreneurship is the “very backbone of our economy on Sint Maarten” and emphasized that doing business digitally is a means to overcome the challenges related to size and to “craft a more resilient and robust economy”.
Though all sessions were greatly appreciated, some highlights of Islandpreneur Live 2020 were the masterclasses “Islandpreneurs & Digital Payments” and “StartUp Finance” and the roundtable discussion: “Get Paid Online”, which were all hosted by the Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten (CBCS). Glensher Maduro, Head of Digital Payments Department of CBCS shared the advancements that the CBCS has already taken to facilitate instant payments and the impact on that has on business growth whether it is online or in person.
Following this masterclass on June 24, Natasha Chatlein, keynote of the day, helped to facilitate the round table discussion. One of the key takeaways of the round table which has panelists Renato Ignacio, software engineer and founder Minubia.com and Luis Santine financial expert and founder of CXPay, is the importance of islandpreneurs using regional payment processors to influence the banks to fully embrace the new normal of doing business. Though bank representatives were not included in these discussions, it became clear that banks have a very strategic role to play in facilitating digital payments and may not be operating at the same speed of adaptation for a variety of reasons.
This virtual summit, unlike many others, had three (3) keynotes. Natasha Chatlein, based in Silicon Valley, shared the opportunities to ensure economic resilience and open other economic drivers by making a global tech hub in the region.
Ms. Chatlein, through her business, Brain Coral Labs, is working on securing USD$50 million for “smart investment” in regional tech businesses and entrepreneurs. This amount is low compared to what is needed but it allows for a solid start. The investment will be attached to knowledge sharing to empower island techpreneurs.
Leslie Samuel, originally from St. Maarten and an internationally acclaimed social media and online business expert, described his story from securing a professorship at a reputable university without having the necessary PhD requirement based on his early start in doing youtube videos to teach his students.
Leslie’s shared videos and content that he never shared before in the decade that he has been successfully training thousands to thrive online. He provided a 5-step process on how to monetize ideas online and best practices of doing including some tools he uses. Leslie ended by making a bold statement, “It is 2020, excuses are invalid”, admonishing ‘islandpreneurs’ to be active lifelong learners and earners.
The final keynote was given by Jeff Hoffman, a close contact of Dwayne Griffith of the PWR Agency, shared the importance of ‘islandpreneurs’ to not focus on how to get the world to the islands but how to take the islands to world. Jeff used examples related to tourism activities, such as food, music, and even virtual tourism.
Jeff shared a global process to move forward during uncertainty and even gave action points on how to maximize this process. The three points were: Repurpose, Retool, and Redeploy. He emphasized that we should all look to solve global problems and not limit ourselves to islands.
The summit ended with closing remarks from Minister of Finance of Sint Maarten, Honorable Mr. Ardwell Irion. Minister Irion expressed his delight to be a part of this summit and the developments happening in the region. As it pertains to Sint Maarten, the minister announced that there will be monthly financial literacy webinars to educate the public on the government budget and thereafter on budgeting in general.
There will be also a financial literacy month in schools that will start with secondary schools. These activities will be hosted the Ministry of Finance. Honorable Mr. Irion aspires to be part of the few public administrations in the world that lead innovation. For that reason, his cabinet is actively promoting fintech and will host a blockchain conference in November with the Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten.
Following the minister’s address, Ife Badejo, the executive producer of Islandpreneur Live 2020 and founder of PWR Agency, made a toast to the success and a new era of islandpreneurship that impacts the world, which started the island’s first virtual happy hour and wine tasting event. Barefoot Wine and Bubbly and Prime Distributors hosted the “Islandpreneur Happy Hour” with the bearded bartender, Paul Peterson. Attendees were able to ask questions directly to the bartender on how best to pair wine with foods and why.
For a limited time, the recordings will be made available for free to all those who registered for Islandpreneur Live 2020. The entire three-day experience including the virtual happy hour and wine tasting was all complimentary. Organizers would like to thank all the registrants, speakers, volunteers, and partners such as TelEm Group, Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten, Urban Adapters, Optimize Curacao, Kerai Kreative Style, and Dwayne Griffith (PWR) for making Islandpreneur Live 2020 such a huge success.
Based on the success and as a follow-up, PWR Agency and partners will launch Islandpreneur Network, to further foster relationships, educate, inspire, and find funding for islandpreneurs around the world.