On Friday, June 17, 2022, the curtain came down on the inaugural National Innovation Challenge – Beauty Edition, with the finalists awarded for using their creativity and ingenuity in developing beauty products that can rival some of the best worldwide.
This awards ceremony followed an event on Thursday, June 16, 2022, where the finalists were allowed to pitch their products one final time to a panel of judges. On Friday, representatives of Export Barbados and the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology gathered at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village, to celebrate the finalists and their creations. Their products ranged from natural soaps to hair products.
The National Innovation Challenge – Beauty Edition is the first in the series of discovery challenges called ‘National Innovation Challenge: from Discovery to Global Sales' managed by Export Barbados. Through the series of challenges, the goal is to uncover at least 20 high-value, high-potential products that could be marketed globally. The Beauty Challenge was selected for the pilot as beauty is a multibillion industry that is continually expanding and transforming. The aim was to build a portfolio of high-potential beauty products that could be scaled up for export, bring new products or services to market, and build the capacity of the local market stakeholders.
The five finalists emerged from a total of 30 entrants for the Challenge. The first place went to Dawn-Dew Thompson of Dawn by Nature, who received $30,000 in technical assistance and $5,000 in cash. Second was Leandra Wilfred-Boyce of Healthy Kinks, who received $20,000 in technical assistance and $3,000 in cash. Third place went to Cherish Forde of Che Essentials. She received $15,000 in technical assistance and $2,000 in cash. The top three finalists will also be included in the Bajan Beauty Box targeting the diaspora. The fourth and fifth places went to Tricia-Ann Waldron of Krown n Glory, and Janelle Gordon-Thompson of Home and Body by Rose, respectively. They each received $500 in cash.
Addressing the audience, Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, said through the challenge series, Export Barbados is seeking to build a new export basket for Barbados. As such, he said that Export Barbados will be seeking to offer assistance to all the participants of the Beauty Challenge, noting that the agency has a goal of discovering 200 new products by November 2022.
Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology, the Honorable Davidson Ishmael, delivering the featured address, lauded Export Barbados (BIDC) for hosting the challenge series. Noting that the global beauty and personal care industry is valued at over US$550 billion, he said Export Barbados’ efforts are creating an innovation ecosystem through which small beauty businesses can grow and go global.
Minister Ishmael added: “The message that it sends is that you are never too small to have a big idea. Colleagues, Barbados’ most recently recognized national hero Rihanna has set the stage for the Bajan brand to take off; from music to beauty and personal care. ‘Fenty’ is a game changer in the cosmetic industry. Launched in September 2017, this brand reportedly made more than $100 million in sales in 40 days. Today, estimates put the Fenty Brand at around $4 billion. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, the stage has been set, but the question is, will we dance?”
The Minister also noted that total imports in 2021 were over seven times the level of domestic exports. Describing the current state of affairs as critical, he announced that a new industrial policy, providing a suite of incentives to help scale up certified exporters, is being developed to address the current trade deficit.