The need for wide-scale integration of the Caribbean is often seen as a very necessary requirement for the development of the various countries in the region.
This was not lost on St. Lucian native Chadia Mathurin who combined electronic media with a growing want to showcase Caribbean talent to ultimately bring to life brand that is Caribbean entrepreneurship, Horace Cunningham reports for St Lucia’s News Online. Mathurin is the CEO of CARICOM Entrepreneur, a business centric e-magazine that focuses on providing CARICOM entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs with the tools and support for success. The platform achieves its aims by giving successful entrepreneurs and experts from across the region an opportunity to share their stories, and expertise with entrepreneurs across the region.
This is a rather simple explanation for an e-paper that Mathurin hopes will cultivate the depth of entrepreneurial culture that can significantly improve the region’s economic power within the international system.
Mathurin is a graduate of the University of the West Indies with a BSc in International Relations and although like most, she intended to work a 9-5, fate decided otherwise. Unemployment pushed her into the world of entrepreneurship. This combined with her strong feelings for regional integration pushed her further into developing CARICOM Entrepreneur.
“I returned to Saint Lucia in December 2013, excited to contribute to my country and region but I was unable to get a job or even an opportunity to intern. Idleness renders me extremely upset and so I decided that I would need to find something to do with my time,” she said.
“During this time, I read countless articles on Entrepreneur.com, Inc, Fast Company, and they helped me tremendously in getting started off but, I also noted that some of this information was not applicable to my experience as a Caribbean entrepreneur. There were suggestions of business ideas and starting costs that sounded awesome and attainable because they were quoted for a particular context. But It would probably cost someone from the Caribbean 3 times the costs quoted to get started off with this very same business idea, ” she further stated.
When noting the challenges she faced with the development of the e-paper she stated that one of the main ones was the difficulty in getting the different category of entrepreneurs on board.
“my greatest challenge has been getting entrepreneurs and professionals who have attained significant experience and expertise in the various spheres which constitute entrepreneurship – Human Resource Management, Leadership, Productivity, Consumer Psychology, Funding, Music, Social Entrepreneurship, Creative Entrepreneurship, Branding, Starting Off, Content Creation, Marketing & Advertising, Hiring, Firing – to share their experiences through writing, and to challenge the status quo when necessary,” she said.
“Simply said, it would seem that Caribbean entrepreneurs do not write or it could be that they have yet to tap into an understanding of the capabilities of the thought leader industry,” she further stated.
She was also critical of the lack of Caribbean-specific data across demographics, data that would be useful to entrepreneurs.
“What we’ve tended to do is simply to use research conducted by American and European universities and organizations, and force our populations into compliance with these behaviors and these findings. But I think the way to go is to know what is truly Caribbean, to identify problems that are truly Caribbean and to find solutions that are tailored specifically to our sizes and needs. “
When asked how CARICOM Entrepreneur will benefit CARICOM nationals Mathurin spoke of the poor economic situation of the Caribbean and how the magazine can help entrepreneurs in gathering information:
“Caribbean Economics is not in the best of places right now. I think when we examine the economic climate across the region we will see that there is a call for something new; a revolution. I believe that entrepreneurship is a large part of the answer.” she said.
“I think that we are providing CARICOM nationals with hope, knowledge and the other tools that will allow them to play an active part in this revolution; we are providing them with the information necessary to grow the brand that is Caribbean Entrepreneurship,” she added.
Mathurin noted several milestones met by the e-magazine since its inception including readership and reach targets:
“In 7 weeks we’ve accumulated readers from 60 countries. The Caribbean region combined is no doubt the core of our readership but We have significant readership from the USA, UK and Canada,” she said.
One milestone was noted however that is yet to be achieved; having contributors from all CARICOM countries on board. Mathurin however believes that this will be achieved in the next 2-4 months.
Current contributors are from:
Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Vincent, and Guyana.
As for highlights of the magazine Mathurin made mention of a few notable interviews and feature sets that are on the launch blocks:
“One of the extensions that we’re currently working on is a podcast platform (to be launched in approximately 3-4 months). So while we’re writing articles that somewhat capture the core points of the interviews that we have with successful entrepreneurs we want to give our readers and users an opportunity to actually listen in and to eventually watch these full interviews.” she said.
“As of now, we’ve had interviews with Edson Breedy out of Trinidad and Tobago, Gordon Swaby from Edufocal out of Jamaica and I’m super excited about the next 2 interviews that we’re about to have with Wesley Gervais from Hivesource out of Trinidad and Tobago and more specifically the one with Gabriel Abed from Bitt out of Barbados.” she further stated.
The bigger goal for CARICOM Entrepreneur however goes beyond the current platform according to Mathurin:
“CARICOM Entrepreneur is one part of a much larger goal. At present we have developed a fully functioning crowdfunding platform called Caribbean Crowds that we plan to launch in August God willing. It is developed. It is fully functioning. We’re simply going to take the months of May, June and July, to spark awareness and to help those who would be interested in using the platform to jumpstart their creative and technological startups. ” she said.
In closing Mathurin made mention of her business partner and thanked contributors to the e-magazine:
“At the end of the day this has become so much bigger than me. It started with me simply wanting to use my love of writing to help Caribbean entrepreneurs and it has extended into so much more. I cannot and I am not doing this on my own. In addition to all the contributors who help make this possible, I have an amazing business partner/co-founder in Tennyson Harrigan and I’m looking forward to us blazing this trail together.”