Building on the success of its 2016 Acceleration Program, the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean (WINC) is launching its 2017 program.
The eight-month peer learning program which begins in November 2017 is designed to help growth-oriented women entrepreneurs innovate within their businesses, and have the self-confidence to make the necessary changes to improve their competitiveness and boost their growth. Participants will benefit from a suite of services including business and personal development, one-to-one mentoring, technical workshops and motivational sessions.
The initiative is part of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the government of Canada and implemented by the World Bank’s infoDev program for innovation and entrepreneurship. It will be delivered by infoDev-trained and certified facilitators in nine countries: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago.
InfoDev certified facilitator, A. Cecile Watson, a senior business leader and also an entrepreneur, will lead WINC AP Jamaica for the second time around. She said: “The returns, impact and value created by the WINC Acceleration Program may never be totally grasped or measured. During 2016, we had 11 women entrepreneurs in the Jamaica program who today are still learning, developing and growing together. We are now a community of women entrepreneurs who are still celebrating our successes, hacking through our challenges, sharing our networks, doing business together and always looking out for each other.”
The Development Bank of Jamaica has signed on as a key sponsor of the Jamaica program. Milverton Reynolds, managing director said: “We’ve hosted and had robust discussions with the women entrepreneur graduates of the first WINCAP cohort and we’ve seen how energized they are by the value that the program continues to create for them. Two of the awardees of the DBJ IGNITE grant in 2016 were amongst the participants. So we support and encourage endeavours like these which are directly aligned to our MSME strategy, a key contributor to Jamaica’s economic growth plans.”
Women entrepreneurs who have been running their business for at least two years will be considered for selection provided that the business has demonstrated growth, and that they have realistic plans for substantial future growth. Each country-based program will support up to 12 women entrepreneurs.
According to Sophia Muradyan, coordinator for EPIC, “The combination of peer learning, personal development, and mentorship allows our women entrepreneurs to develop themselves as well as their businesses, which is essential for them to scale and so make an even greater contribution to the economic and social development of the region.”
In 2016, 108 women entrepreneurs graduated from the WINC Acceleration Program from 12 countries in the Caribbean. Of these, 94% stated that their businesses had become more focused; 48% noted an increase in business total sales during the period; 77% indicated that they had significantly improved their marketing methods since joining the program; and 73% indicated having significantly improved their internal processes and organizational structure and management practices.
Muradyan added that, “from our previous research, we are aware of the most significant challenges facing growth-oriented women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean today – including lack of access to growth financing, very limited mentoring support, and underdeveloped professional networks. The positive results of WINC’s first offering means that we are now building on a solid foundation across the region. We are extremely pleased to be able to accommodate a second cohort under the program.”
Female entrepreneurs who are committed to growing and scaling their business may apply for the WINC 2017 Acceleration Program athttps://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WINC-AP2. The call for applications closes on 31 July 2017.
For questions and updates, visit: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInnovatorsNetworkCaribbean