Bijou Lakay Participates in Caribbean Export WE-Xport Programme
Earlier this month Bijou Lakay was invited to participate in the excellent BMEX trade show in Barbados, which coincided with the end of the current cohort of the WE-Xport programme, an initiative of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA), designed to support Caribbean women in business to start exporting or increase the exports of their products and services.
The programme launched on March 7th, 2018, the day before International Women’s Day, and received 186 applications from women-owned businesses across the region. Of these applicants, just twenty were selected for the programme, each of whom was assigned the support of a Business Coach, and a Technical Assistant, to assist them in strengthening their export capabilities.
The key benefits of the programme fall under four pillars: access to finance; capacity building; access to markets and advocacy.
Under the first pillar, CEDA partnered with the Caribbean Development Bank to host an Access to Finance workshop, and supported the building of capacity through a financial consultant. Participants also took part in angel investing webinars, designed to hone their pitching skills.
For the capacity-building component, CEDA developed and executed a business coaching programme, pairing each firm with a coach for a period of three months. Bijou Lakay was fortunate to be partnered with Michele Kalloo, a highly south-after regional authority on export markets, with over twenty years’ experience guiding and advising business executives from large companies to SME’s throughout the Caribbean and Latin America on export sales and marketing. Additionally, under this pillar, participants were assigned technical experts to assist with sales and marketing, branding and packaging, and certification.
In terms of access to markets, firms attended a number of trade shows, exhibitions and fashion festivals across the world, culminating in the BMEX show in Barbados.
Finally, as it relates to advocacy, CEDA partnered with UN-Women to develop the WE-SPEAK Caribbean podcast, which addresses the constraints and issues affecting women in business in the region, and provides a platform for women entrepreneurs to discuss priority issues.
The closing ceremony for the programme was held at the Hilton Barbados Resort, and featured presentations from a number of stakeholders, including representatives of the European Union, and the government of Barbados, as well as Success Stories from two hugely successful and inspirational entrepreneurs, including Christine Souffrant Ntim, a Haitian-American tech entrepreneur and a huge inspiration for all of us here at Bijou Lakay!
For more information on the WE-Xport programme please click here.
All images copyright Caribbean Export.