If the region is to experience a trajectory of sustainable economic growth, urgent attention must be paid to promoting entrepreneurship as a catalyst for regional economic development.

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, underscored this on Monday, as he addressed the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding between The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, and PitchIt Caribbean. It was held in the main Conference Room of the Administration Building of The UWI.

Acknowledging that the signing would allow both institutions to collaborate on promoting a new culture of learning among the entrepreneurial class, the Minister said it would also allow for leveraging myriad opportunities available on the world stage, brought about by emerging technological advancements.

He added that it would also provide greater access to international travel and the ability to communicate at will, along the global value chain.

Speaking to The Importance of Focused Entrepreneurial Education in Scaling Caribbean Ventures To Compete Effectively on The Global Scale, Mr. Sutherland noted that this type of education was important for strengthening people’s capacity to create ideas, foster innovation and lead in accelerating business in a way that extend their capacities.

While he commended the Student Entrepreneurship Empowerment Development (SEED) Project at The UWI, for leading the charge in this regard, the Minister said entrepreneurial education had to be pursued “as a proactive and deliberate response to the current economic debacle in which this country has found itself, thus providing opportunities for the disenfranchised worker to reset his/her effort to pursue their dream of choice”.

He further pointed out that this type of education put emphasis on imagination, creativity and risk acceptance in business, unlike the traditional educational view where greater emphasis was on quantitative techniques rather than the development of creative skills.

Adding that emphasis also had to be on promoting entrepreneurs’ personal knowledge, the Commerce Minister said it must enhance their ability to distinguish business opportunities and develop core knowledge and skill-set capacities to create effective and flexible business solutions for many at risk small business.

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau and Executive Director of Lumin Consulting Inc. (representing PitchIt) shake hands and display the signed documents at Monday’s ceremony. (B.Hinds/BGIS)

Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Eudine Barriteau, noted that the cooperative agreement signalled another important step in cementing the university’s role in building the capacity of entrepreneurs and innovators in the region.

“In fact, I dare say that these two bodies are positive proof of the ingenuity and forward thinking of my colleagues, guided by our Vice Chancellor, Sir Hilary Beckles. Indeed, The UWI can be seen as a laboratory of good practice in the investment in innovation,” Principal Barriteau said.

The initiative also has the support of Lumin Consulting Inc., the Centre for Professional Development and Life-long Learning, the World Bank Group, infoDev and Canada.

Its key objectives are to develop and strengthen innovativeness and entrepreneurship in the Caribbean; enable business startup for entrepreneurs through entrepreneurial, innovativeness and competitiveness training and development activities; and develop and offer online, face-to-face, and blended short courses and certificate programmes in entrepreneurship and innovation. (BGIS)