The creativity and enterprising spirit of Barbadians came to the fore when Export Barbados (BIDC) launched its Volcanic Ash Product Challenge, which ran from April 26 - May 14, 2021.
On Friday, July 30, 2021, representatives of Export Barbados and the Ministry of International Business and Industry gathered at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village, to celebrate the winning innovators and their ideas.
Export Barbados is intent on fostering entrepreneurial innovation as part of its mission to grow exports to $1 billion in 10 years. Therefore, when the La Soufrière volcano erupted and the ash blanketed this island, rather than simply seeing it as a nuisance and inconvenience, Export Barbados set as its task, to encourage Barbadians to envisage what potential products could be developed from the ash.
From the host of entries, the five best concepts were evaluated, looking at scalability of the product/idea, their potential to generate revenue or save costs and the length of time it would take to implement. Three winners emerged Rhea Gilkes (first place), Kamal Howell (second place) Kerry-Ann Bovell (third place), and they will benefit from Export Barbados’ support in the form of brand development, packaging, marketing, business advisory services and product refinement. There were also two winners of the social media challenge – Dennis Sobers and Michelle Bowe.
During the ceremony, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, commended the winners for having the courage to “think outside the box and for stepping outside their comfort zone”. Mr. Hill added that the Competition reflected Export Barbados’ internal challenge to be more innovative and to create new opportunities for the Barbadian public to pursue.
Delivering the feature address, Minister of International Business and Industry, the Honourable Ronald Toppin congratulated Export Barbados on a successful competition and the awardees for turning the ash challenge into opportunities.
“The pursuit of ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and the manufacture of well-made products; coupled with a knowledge of standards, intellectual property and international business savvy can provide a much-needed platform to share our legacy of Barbadian pride and industry with the world,” the Minister said.
As Export Barbados looks forward to working one-on-one with the finalists to move their ideas from concept to production, it will continue to strive to take the export of locally produced goods to higher heights.