Entrepreneurship & Digital Technologies
A panel discussion was held at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies on June 20th 2018. It was facilitated by the Inter-American Development Bank, and featured the General Manager for the Caribbean Country Department, Therese Turner-Jones, as well as the Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Dr. Sylvia Dohnert.
The discussion highlighted five prominent entrepreneurs and experts from the fields of fintech, medicine, art & entertainment, agriculture and education. These panelists discussed the impact of cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, renewable energy and computer programming not just in their respective fields, but in their own businesses, and explained how the Caribbean is in the position to take advantage of these technologies in order to leap into the future.
Dr. Fazal Ali, the Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission discussed the impact of the Caribbean culture of failure on the risk-taking nature of invention and entrepreneurship; as well as the implications of what should occur if we do not start recognizing failure as a building block rather than a stumbling block. Stephen Philips from Bitt Inc, discussed Bitt’s own M-money wallet and the benefits of that over a commercial banking app – as well as outlining Bitt’s work on revolutionizing the financial sector in the Caribbean, he touched on what could happen if regional Central Banks utilized blockchain. Keisha “Empress Zingha” Simmons is a Bajan cultural icon, and co-founded Gine On, a digital media platform, with her husband in an effort to connect artists with their audience – she highlighted the importance of recognizing that art & creativity is not just a passion, but a profession, and that digital media can complement that.
Dale Trotman, founder of MedRegis, an app that digitizes, stores and shares medical records to ease patients and practitioners – he spoke of his partnership with Blackberry, and how he is striving to revolutionize the medical field even further by incorporating blockchain and artificial intelligence into MedRegis. Finally, Alicia Rogers from Solagrow discussed how the company has reinvented the wheel as far as greenhouses go by creating a computer-program that controls the inner climate of the greenhouse so precisely that crops more suited to northern climates can be grown in the tropics – she touched on how this technology can completely revamp agriculture in Barbados.
The Caribbean is not as developed as North America – this puts it in the unique position where it is not so stuck in its ways that it cannot identify great opportunities and just leap. The conclusion to the discussion was that the future for Barbados and the Caribbean region is very bright when innovative minds meet institutions such as the IDB.