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Make a difference

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s $20 Challenge Competition is here again and after some of the entries I saw last year, I can’t wait to see what the kids come up with this year.

Our winning entrepreneurs last year created hand-made greeting cards with their own designs, trendy hair bows for the fashion conscious teenager; dog biscuits and Boobie cakes, which were cupcakes that were decorated to look like (you know what) and sold to raise money that was given to a breast cancer charity.

The winning projects were selected based on the three areas that the competition focuses on: creativity/innovation, profits and community impact which were reflected in the competition’s slogan: “Make money, Make a difference, Give back”. So once again we’re going into the schools in our quest to fulfill our mission: “To unlock and develop the talent, creativity and innovation in Barbadians of all ages”.

What I’m hoping to see this year is a lot more innovation. While we had quite a few entries last year many of the participants bought and sold goods, washed cars, baked items and so on and while that is a good start to get the kids involved in business ventures, we want to see them go beyond just trading to innovation.

Incidentally, innovation doesn’t necessarily mean creating something unheard of before, it may simply mean taking something traditional and packaging it in a different way or marketing it in a unique way.

Maybe that is what’s on the cards for the Barbadian sugar. The Minister of Agriculture said in the press this week that it was not making sense to sell our sugar to Europe for less than it was costing to produce. Why did it take so long to come to that conclusion?

An enterprising company has been selling their Barbados sugar in our supermarkets (and no doubt overseas) using innovative packaging and the marketing appeal of a special “reserve” sugar (similar to wine) for three times the cost of a regular packet of sugar. Anyway I digress.

In addition to innovation and profits we’re also looking for social impact. Last year the kids who did the dog biscuits packaged them in brown paper bags (environmentally friendly) and stuck on photos of dogs from the Ark that needed homes. They actually managed to find a couple of homes using this method of advertising and then as their “Give back” they donated some of their profits to the Ark.

Speaking of giving back, we really need to encourage of children to give back and I’m not just talking about money, I’m also talking about giving of their time and talents. All of the ambassadors, or mentors, for the $20 Challenge participants are volunteers.

They are all busy and need to be earning revenue, but this team of amazing ambassadors, who are entrepreneurs and enterprising people in their own right, have committed to going into the schools and holding the hands of the students throughout the competition. They are doing it because they recognize the importance of giving back. Many of them have asked to go to their old schools and others are just willing to work where they’re needed.

We also encourage the students to work as a team. I once saw somewhere, probably a management book, the word TEAM described as an acronym for Together Everyone Achieves More. When we get that mentality grounded in us, not only in our children, we will be on our way to success.

This week alone I spoke to two people, one in Trinidad and one right here in Barbados, who were speaking the same language: the need to work together, first in our own countries, and also as a region in order to give the Caribbean a voice in the world market.

That is becoming increasingly important since the preferential treatment we enjoyed in years gone by is now a thing of the past, as everyone is fighting to keep their own economies afloat. We therefore have to put our strengths together in order to excel at what we offer to the world. These are things that we need to be instilling in our youth.

The $20 Challenge competition is one such way that we are attempting to do just that. So I encourage you to get your children involved if they’re in fourth or fifth form and I urge you to get involved as well and help to unlock and develop the talent, creativity and innovation in our youth.

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Donna Every is a motivational speaker, business coach and the author of the books What do you have in your house?, The Promise Keeper and Arise and Shine. She has a degree in Mathematics, is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. She is the Project Manager for the Education and Talent Development Pillar of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.

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