Published On: Wed, Aug 24th, 2022

Islandpreneur offers local businesses a window on the world

PHILIPSBURG — Local entrepreneurs have the tools for growth at their fingertips due to the activities of Islandpreneur, an initiative founded by Ife Badejo, president of the Foundation INFOBIZZ and founder of the Produce Wealth Revolution Agency. Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion has recognized the potential of the initiative; hence the ministry has signed up as one of its key official partners.

“The Ministry recognizes development programs that strive to improve the business community through innovative means while providing the wider community with opportunities to enhance their skills in an ever-changing world,” Irion said in a statement. “Programs which focus on equitable ways to create wealth, strengthen relationships regionally and internationally as a means to increase trade balances, and overall provide tools for economic mobility contribute to lasting stability and progress.”

So what is Islandpreneur all about? In the words of its founder, it is designed to accelerate growth and scale impact on small islands developing states through innovation, finance and entrepreneurship. This is done primarily through cutting-edge acceleration programs, events programs, and projects. The objective is to help island-based entrepreneurs to make global impact and by extension attract investors. Tools to achieve this are experiential and immersive learning, providing access to quality resources, and boosting entrepreneurial activity.

Islandpreneur Live is the signature event that turns this rather theoretical approach into real world action. The event, launched in 2020, brings together global leaders and experts that provide participants with strategies and tools to accelerate growth.

The program has attracted some interesting names. Among them are Jeff Hoffman, the co-founder of Priceline.com, venture capitalist Evan Carmichael who is now a Youtuber with 3 million followers, as well as experts from the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, Microsoft and Facebook’s parent company Meta.
This year’s edition of Islandpreneur Live took place at the end of June in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten, the Port of St. Maarten Group of Companies, Motorworld, and TelEm Group of Companies.

“The collaboration with Islandpreneur creates new supply avenues for local entrepreneurs,” Minister Irion stated. “Access to pertinent guidance from such an organization at the ground floor will see people stretch their professional reach past previous limitations.”

The Islandpreneur event of this summer included master classes that covered topics global public relations, resilience, and adaptive strategies. These master classes were headed by Lela Simmonds, Business Development Manager at Port of St. Maarten Group of Companies, Haddy Folivi, a global public relations specialist based in the United Kingdom, and Elly Moesquit, Supervision Specialist of the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS). Ms. Moequit was also joined by Errol Cova, Head of Expert Supervision Department, based on Curacao and Ghyslaine Rollocks, based on St. Maarten of the Central Bank.

There was also the 2nd Annual Islandpreneur Awards, held at Motorworld Showroom and hosted by sought after online business coach and youtuber from St. Maarten, Leslie Samuel. Awardees included Islandpreneur of the Year, John Sandiford of Antonio Media, originally from St. Maarten and based in The Netherlands. Pioneers of the Year are Luis Santine and David Maduro of CXPay, a payment solutions firm. This year, the first ever McSood Innovator of the Year was given to inventor, entrepreneur, and pilot, Michael Jeffry of Smart Concepts 721 by Mr. Imran ‘McSood’ Amjad, Chairman of Motorworld Group of Companies.

“We understand the challenges that all businesses go through, especially those on St. Maarten and within the region”, Managing Director Tariq Amjad said in a statement. “Partnering with Islandpreneur means that we are encouraging an initiative that highlights the tremendous work done by amazing individuals. This partnership only reinforces our commitment to entrepreneurs and the community at large.”

The event closed off with a virtual summit themed The Future of Islands where global experts shared their views on innovation, finance and entrepreneurship.

The summit concluded with a panel discussion with Errol Cova, Head of Expert Supervision Department and Chair of Innovation Platform at the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten, Damien Schmidt, Project Coordinator at the Princess Juliana International Airport and an entrepreneurship advocate, and Claudine Pohl of Lemoneight Consulting and International Brand Ambassador of the Port of St. Maarten.

With the exception of the panel discussion, all sessions at Islandpreneur Live were headed by women. Ruth Kuzi of the Optimus Coaching Academy in the UK, shared insights about the future of business and focused furthermore on topics like the psychology of entrepreneurship and the acceleration of growth.

American Caterina Rando spoke about the influence equation, how to gain long-term clients and how to sell with authenticity during the Future of Sales-session.

Shellya Rodgers-Webster gave her unique perspective on the Future of Tourism. Rodgers-Webster is a Member of the House of Assembly in Anguilla and a former deputy director of tourism at the Anguilla Tourism Board.

Nevis-based Telly Onu is an internationally regarded digital financial infrastructure architect who shared her knowledge about what the future of finance looks like based on the development of blockchain technologies. Onu has been at the forefront of the financial innovation ecosystem for more than twenty years.

Shortly after Islandpreneur Live 2022, Dr. Ife Badejo and Mr. Dwayne Griffith, social entrepreneur and board member of Foundation INFOBIZZ, went to Atlanta to further develop relationships with some of the state’s leading incubator and accelerator programs. This visit included meetings with ecosystem builders, investors, and program directors.

Dr. Ife Badejo is the founder and executive producer of Islandpreneur. She has an honorary doctorate for her work in entrepreneurship and innovation development focused on islands from the United Graduate College and Seminary International. The I Change Nations organization honored her with the Entrepreneurship Civility Person of the Year Award.