The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) is partnering with breakbeatcode to host a hackathon for students aged 13 to 18 throughout Trinidad and Tobago. breakbeatcode is a 20% time project at Google. The two-day event will introduce students to an initiative called breakbeatcode which uses hip-hop music to teach young people the basics of computer coding.
The program was founded by Richard Achee who works on the Chrome Enterprise Technology Partnership team. The goal of the Hackathon is to teach future leaders to code, collaborate and create in order to open up students to career possibilities such as becoming artist engineers. The coaches involved in the initiative are a collection of professionals in music and technology, including singers, rappers, producers, and entrepreneurs.
AMCHAM T&T is proud to partner with the breakbeatcode team on this venture because it builds on our commitment to promote technology as a viable sector for diversification with the potential for future investment and economic growth. Partnerships such as this one that specifically engages youths also have the added benefit of providing more opportunities for young people to be exposed to technology. This is part of the organisation’s commitment to create spaces for young people to learn, to dream, and to acquire skills that will enable them to become the next generation of innovators, coders, and entrepreneurs in the world of tech.
AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie says the breakbeatcode Hackathon will have a huge impact on the development of the young people who participate. “There are no limits where technology is concerned and so we must create as many opportunities as possible for our young people to be exposed to technology in an accessible manner and reap the benefits,” Tewarie said. “At AMCHAM T&T, our goal is to ensure that T&T becomes a global tech hub where we are creating the next generation of inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs who are changing the world through technology. Merging the world of music and technology and putting this into the hands of young people will no doubt advance their career prospects and help them to contribute more positively towards the development of their country. Hopefully, if nothing else, the young adults who participate, will be happier at the end of the hackathon.”
Calvin Pinney, TEDx speaker, a military veteran (USMC) and Program Manager (Sales Specialist) at Google Chrome Enterprises has been spearheading the breakbeatcode Hackathon initiative in the Caribbean region for Google. He was also one of the speakers at AMCHAM T&T’s recently concluded Tech Hub Islands Summit (t.h.i.s.) 2021. With breakbeatcode, Pinney has brought together professionals in music and tech, including singers, rappers, producers, entrepreneurs, and tech coaches, to inspire and teach students the skills, habits and mindset they will need to pursue their dreams while creating opportunities to build their social capital.
The two-day event will teach students how to build beats, code in Python and remix music through 1-to-1 instruction from tech coaches from Google. By the end of the session, students will have produced and published their own music tracks.
The breakbeatcode Hackathon which takes place on August 7th and 8th, 2021 is 100% FREE for students aged 13 to 18 but space is limited. AMCHAM T&T will be selecting 50 students to participate in the Hackathon. Students are not required to have coding experience but will need internet access and a laptop or desktop computer. (Tablet devices are not recommended). Students will collaborate in randomly constructed teams of five, but team members will not be required to be in the same physical location to participate.
AMCHAM T&T is also looking for ten (10) volunteers (preferably teachers) to help coordinate the teams.
Students can sign up at http://bit.ly/AMCHAMTTBBStu
Volunteers can sign up at http://bit.ly/AMCHAMTTBBVolunteer
The deadline for application is Friday 16th July, 2021.
For more information contact Michelle Laggan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rey-Anne Paynter-Mendez at email@example.com. Or contact AMCHAM T&T via cell at at 295 – 4869.
AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community during these challenging times as we continue to advance the opportunities available through the building of a tech ecosystem in T&T.
For further media-related questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice President of Corporate Operations and Transformation at Atlantic LNG has been appointed the new President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) replacing outgoing President, Patricia Ghany who served a three-year term from 2018 – 2021.
“For me, AMCHAM T&T has always been a chamber best characterized for its altruistic actions by people committed to making a difference in the lives of others,” Sirju-Ramnarine told AMCHAM T&T’s approximately 300 member companies in her inaugural address at the organization’s 28th Annual General Meeting on June 22nd, 2021.
Sirju-Ramnarine who is the third woman to be elected as President in the organization’s 28th year history said companies today must remain optimistic and look for opportunities out of the pandemic. She cites progress with vaccines around the world and countries that have pursued aggressive vaccination programmes showing signs of a faster return to normal. “Locally, we are pleased to see the recent progress on that front, and I encourage everyone to do their part in getting us back to normalcy as soon as we can.”
In this regard, AMCHAM has been working with other chambers and private sector organisations on the “Take D Jab Jab” pro-vaccination campaign that will encourage citizens to become vaccinated. Siju-Ramnarine warns that this is not the time to allow fear to take control, point fingers or lay blame. “It is a time for collaboration – a time for solving problems collectively, a time to put all else aside and to move forward together. Today, we must “Take D Jab Jab.”
Speaking on the theme “Enabling Investment,” Sirju-Ramnarine said AMCHAM T&T is ready to commit to three priority areas of strategic focus to future-proof our economy. The three areas are: 1) The Recovery of the Economy; 2) The use of Technology; and 3) The preparation of our Youth and the Workforce for the Future. “The question today is how can we make the pandemic situation a pivot point to a new future for T&T? The simple answer starts with businesses being able to recover and bounce back stronger. For this to happen, we have to re-instill confidence in the economy.”
“A key element to recovery will be attracting additional Foreign Direct Investment. It will also require significant local investment,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “Liquidity in the financial system is high. Local companies are listing on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and some are even moving their headquarters there. We have to make T&T a more attractive place to do business.”
Sirju-Ramnarine said the rule of law will be a key prerequisite to investment attraction and a welcoming business environment. “Countries that display a commitment to the Rule of Law often have high levels of economic freedom, social mobility, and economic growth,” Sirju-Ramnarine said.
“We’re sure that you will agree that enhanced transparency and consistent application of rules are good for business and absolutely necessary for the attraction of investment,” said Sirju-Ramnarine.
AMCHAM T&T over the coming months will be working with the US Embassy and other stakeholders locally on a series of Rule of Law initiatives with the possibility of establishing a multi-stakeholder, Rule of Law Committee.
The new AMCHAM T&T President also said the development of a tech sector will be another major strategic pillar of AMCHAM T&T moving forward that will be key to T&T’s successful recovery from the pandemic. “With efforts focused on re-shoring and nearshoring, coupled with the transformation imperatives laid bare by the pandemic, we have a golden opportunity to make the goal of creating a tech hub, a reality,” Sirju-Ramnarine said. “In addition to the benefits of creating a tech industry, we also have to harness the transformative power of technology. In this vein, the digital transformation of businesses and the Government will be key to a successful recovery.”
Finally, AMCHAM T&T is looking to prioritize youths in the new workforce of the future. Sirju-Ramnarine said developing youths in the new workforce of the future requires building a “Culture of Curiosity” that moulds a cadre of young people with analytical thinking skills and other critical skills for the future. “This requires significant work that must be done in examining the role of schools and on the current curriculum. While the pandemic has shown that online school cannot work in totality, we have seen many new tools and techniques being incorporated into the way teachers teach and how students learn. Therefore, our education system must see technical and vocational skills ranging from specific software to soft-skill training as investments into our future.”
At the 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM), AMCHAM T&T elected the following Board of Directors for the term 2021 – 2023:
• PRESIDENT – Toni Sirju-Ramnarine – VP Corporate Operations & Transformation, Atlantic LNG Company Limited
• VICE PRESIDENT – Greer Quan – Chief Executive Officer, Caribbean, Pan-American Life Insurance Group
• VICE PRESIDENT – Gregory Hill – Managing Director, ANSA Merchant Bank Limited
• SECRETARY – Glenn Hamel-Smith – Partner, Head - Banking and Finance, M. Hamel-Smith & Co.
• TREASURER – Mitchell De Silva – Citi Country Officer - T&T Hub, Citibank
• Anna Henderson – Chief Executive Officer, AMARANTH Business Solutions
• Andrea Davis – Country Manager, DHL
• Angelique Parisot-Potter – Executive VP and General Counsel, MASSY
• Dominic Rampersad – President, Phoenix Park Gas Processors Ltd.
• Katishe Serrette – VP-AML/ATF Compliance, Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago Limited
• Giselle Thompson – VP Corporate Operations, BP TT
• Patricia Ghany – Chief Financial Officer, Esau Oilfield Supplies Co. Ltd (Immediate Past President – AMCHAM T&T)
• Richard Look Kin – Group Chief Risk Officer, First Citizens Trinidad & Tobago
• Simon Aqui – Business Development Executive, IBM Trinidad
• Stuart Franco – Chief Executive Officer, The TSL Group
• Karrian Hepburn – Vice President, Sales and Service , Trinidad & Tobago Unit Trust Corporation
Chargé d’Affaires, Shante Moore – U.S Embassy Trinidad & Tobago Ex- Officio position
Nirad Tewarie CEO AMCHAM T&T Ex-Officio position
AMCHAM T&T’s 28th Annual General Meeting was sponsored by Platinum Sponsor: E-zone Logistics; Gold Sponsor: Nu-Iron Trinidad and Tobago and Silver Sponsors: Pan American Life Insurance Group; EOG Resources and Atlantic LNG.
For more information, interested persons can visit www.amchamtt.com.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) will be hosting its 28th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 22nd, 2021. The AGM is one of AMCHAM T&T’s signature events which introduces the new Board of Directors to the organisation’s membership of approximately 300 private sector companies in Trinidad and Tobago. Also, this year, a new President will be elected succeeding outgoing President, Patricia Ghany, who served from 2018-2021.
AMCHAM T&T’s AGM features some of the leading business trailblazers and economic thought leaders of the Western Hemisphere who can add expert insights and offer innovative perspectives into doing Business in the Americas. This year, the Keynote Speaker will be Ian Saunders, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Global Markets at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
As DAS for the Western Hemisphere, Mr. Saunders is responsible for developing programs, policies and strategies designed to strengthen the United States’ commercial position in the Western Hemisphere. He also oversees a network of 24 field offices throughout the region that help to carry out this mission. Mr. Saunders will be speaking on the topic: “Increasing Trade and Investment between T&T and the U.S.A.”
Nirad Tewarie, CEO of AMCHAM T&T says the theme for this year’s AGM “Enabling Investment” is both timely and relevant considering the current economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The impetus now is to transform the way we conduct business and ensure that there is an enabling, business-friendly environment in T&T,” Tewarie said. “We have the resources, the talent and the people to achieve this. Our speakers at this year’s AGM will explore the opportunities to help us with enabling investment again in T&T for a post-COVID era. A key factor in attracting investment is ensuring that the policies, regulations, and laws are clear and transparently applied. Ensuring strong adherence to the rule of law is key to increasing competitiveness.”
Also speaking at this year’s AGM is Kendra Gaither, Executive Director Rule of Law Coalition at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Ms. Gaither will speak on the topic: “Rule of Law: How T&T Ranks.” She will be presenting highlights of the Global Business Rule of Law Dashboard 2021 with a focus on how T&T ranks. In addition to assisting members with economic policy issues across the Western Hemisphere, she serves as the Executive Director for the Chamber’s bilateral business councils for Colombia and Cuba. Gaither also directs the Chamber’s rule of law coalition, which publishes a Global Business Rule of Law Dashboard to bring more attention to the issue from the private sector perspective.
AMCHAM T&T’s Annual General Meeting begins at 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm with the members-only portion while the Business Forum begins at 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm during which the international speakers will make their presentations and the new President will be introduced for their inaugural speech.
AMCHAM T&T’s 28th Annual General Meeting is sponsored by Platinum Sponsors: E-zone Logistics, Gold Sponsor: Nu-Iron Unlimited and Silver Sponsor: Pan American Life Insurance Group (PALIG) EOG Resources and Atlantic LNG. For more information, interested persons can visit https://amchamtt.swoogo.com/2021agm/Home.
(l-r) Dr Roshan Parasram - Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health; Simon Pantin - Director of Global Network Development, Amerijet; Nirad Tewarie - CEO of AMCHAM T&T; and Mark Singh - Assistant Public Relations Officer of Sewa TT.
Sewa International TT (Sewa TT) in collaboration with AMCHAM T&T, Amerijet and Ramps Logistics has contributed critical equipment to the Ministry of Health to support the country’s efforts to battle COVID-19. Specifically, 40 Oxygen Concentrators; 200 thermometers; 200 blood pressure monitors; and 400 pulse oximeters have been donated to the Ministry.
Highly motivated and proactive in thinking, the local arm of Sewa International procured these items through its global network. Sewa International TT was able to source and procure these items at a time when these items are in high demand globally.
Without hesitation, AMCHAM T&T, Amerijet and Ramps Logistics provided logistical support, assistance with co-ordination, and free expedited shipping of one tonne of medical equipment from Atlanta to Miami, and then to Trinidad and Tobago. The group also facilitated storage and clearance in T&T.
Sewa TT’s President Revan Teelucksingh’s message on the donation and collaboration is simple: “Together we serve better.”
AMCHAM T&T CEO, Nirad Tewarie said the donation underscores the organisation’s commitment to collaboration and support to the national community. “We really commend Sewa TT for stepping up and procuring these items. We are also extremely grateful for the generosity of our members Amerijet and Ramps Logistics who facilitated the process of transporting, storing and clearing these items without cost. We also thank the Customs and Excise Division for their assistance in clearing the items. AMCHAM T&T is very proud to have played a small part in the co-ordination of this donation and we are hopeful that these items will give our very hard-working front-line workers additional tools to save lives.”
“Amerijet is honoured to being part of this initiative; we have been working in close partnership with Sewa International and AMCHAM T&T for many years,” said Simon Pantin, Amerijet’s Director of Global Network Development.
In receiving the items on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram thanked Sewa TT for their continued support and said the medical equipment donations will support the country’s effort to battle COVID-19. “The oxygen concentrators which will go a long way in assisting the patients especially at the step-down facilities where there is not piped oxygen. We have been using
oxygen cylinders before and it (oxygen concentrators) will replace that element for people that would require lower levels of oxygenation,” Parasram said. “Thanks again to SewaTT for the donations. The pulse oximeters of course will be used for patients at home so that they can monitor their pulses as well as the oxygen concentrations. So, it will go a long way in the care of patients with COVID-19.”
The planning and delivery of this equipment would not have been possible without dedicated teamwork.
(l-r) Simon Pantin - Director of Global Network Development, Amerijet; Dr Roshan Parasram - Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health; Nirad Tewarie - CEO of AMCHAM T&T; Mark Singh - Assistant Public Relations Officer of Sewa TT
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) will be celebrating 25 years of health and safety excellence and leadership across the private sector later this year with the hosting of the annual Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) Conference from October 25th to October 29th, 2021.
The largest HSSE Conference in the Caribbean hosted by AMCHAM T&T has consistently brought together local and international industry leaders and experts who are responsible for the health and safety culture shift across many industries over the past two and a half decades. Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic only amplify the importance of a focus on health and safety in business.
Speaking at the launch of the HSSE Conference, Melissa Pierre, Senior Trade and Policy Specialist at AMCHAM T&T says the Conference theme “Learn, Evolve, Thrive” is most fitting because it speaks to the experience companies and citizens have been facing because of the pandemic while continuing AMCHAM T&T’s commitment to health and safety. “We learned to pivot and thereby introduce new methods of doing things once thought to be familiar or routine,” Pierre said. “We adapted so we could evolve, and we rethink, and we reimagine a world so we could thrive.”
Pierre said AMCHAM T&T’s commitment to this topic centers on putting people first. “Implementing new systems and processes, and enforcing new regulations may do well to reduce risk and prevent hazards or injuries but if the central focus of these new measures isn’t placed on people, then all we are doing is just creating more rules.” However, Pierre acknowledges that companies must adjust their HSSE policies to match new realities and unforeseen risks to better protect their employees. “What we are saying is that to make sure that we are always at the forefront of keeping our people safe, we have to constantly learn from our past mistakes, adapt to the new circumstances and be willing to evolve so that we are always preparing for a new normal even if that may be far away on the horizon. We must also create cultures of trust and collaboration.”
Meanwhile, Dr Philip Mshelbila, CEO of Atlantic, Title Sponsor of the 25th Annual HSSE Conference, says leaders must change the way they view impossible problems before finding a solution. “If you take the perspective that it is an impossible problem just because the solution hasn't yet been found then that gives you a completely different approach to tackling the problem,” Mshelbila says. “There is nothing that is truly impossible. Whatever challenges or problems we face, whether as a person or as a business, there will be a solution somewhere, somehow. We may not get to it, either because we look at it in the wrong way or we don’t have the right tools and resources but there is a way to get around it.”
Mshelbila says leaders must be able to sustain the solutions they build to solve impossible problems otherwise time will be wasted on trying to solve the problem again. “You have to create a culture that enables you to sustain the model and it is in that culture that will allow you to evolve through different difficult times and times of change.”
Speaking on the topic: “How To Solve Impossible Problems,” Feature Speaker and co-author of the book “Meltdown: What Plane Crashes, Oil Spills, and Dumb Business Decisions Can Teach Us About How to Succeed at Work and at Home,” Chris Clearfield says companies seeking to solve impossible problems must 1) Ask real questions, 2) Celebrate Resistance, and 3) Run Experiments.
Clearfield says companies seeking to be an agent of change or influence must engage people and meet them where they are. “The opportunity is to use authentic inquiry which is to really engage your people to understand the problem better,” Clearfield says. “If you're engaging with people in an authentic way across an organization you are naturally going to be starting to build the muscle for teamwork and collaboration in a very different way and that is one of the muscles that is needed to solve these kinds of impossible problems.”
Clearfield also advises leaders to solve problems by celebrating resistance because it helps to prevent dumb ideas and makes a good idea even better. “The process of dialogue or working with someone to develop ideas and having somebody not accept what you say is true, that is the creative process of generating better and better ideas.”
Finally, Clearfield argues that leaders are much more effective with change when they can think in terms of experiments. “It's not about coming up with some right answer and then changing your policy manual and pushing it throughout the organization. It's about experiments,” Clearfield says.
“Instead of saying, what's the solution, think about the question, what do we want to try next” Clearfield says. “When you're able to do that, that's when you're able to not only move faster but also really create this opportunity to engage leaders and people at all different levels of the organization who are invested in the success of the experiment. If they see that successful experiment happening, then they will start to get interested.”
The 25th edition of AMCHAM T&T’s HSSE Conference will feature a list of internationally renowned speakers, local experts and leading industry players who have been spearheading the HSSE revolution in T&T for the past 25 years and beyond. The conference agenda and topics will once more explore how we are embracing the new trends and concepts that has been transitioning HSSE into a new era. The Theme “Learn, Evolve, Thrive” will focus on how we can revolutionize the approach to health and safety in the workplace and elevate the conversation we are having around HSSE systems and policies.
Several major local companies have signed up as sponsors of the Conference, with Atlantic LNG once more returning as the Title Sponsor; The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago (NGC), bpTT and Shell as Platinum Sponsors; Nu-Iron Unlimited and Point Lisas Nitrogen Limited as Gold Sponsors; and Green Engineering as a Technical Session Sponsor.
For more information on 25th Annual HSSE Conference kindly visit the website at www.amchamtt.com
AMCHAM T&T President Calls For Active Commitment To Gender Equity In The Post Pandemic Workforce
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched the fourth Annual Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme on May 26th. The programme was originally conceived in 2017 with the IDB as part of AMCHAM T&T’s commitment to empower women and promote gender parity and women’s leadership in business.
At the launch, Patricia Ghany, AMCHAM T&T President says the pandemic has triggered a huge threat to women’s participation in the workforce. “Experts are calling it the “she-cession” era where the fear is that more women would remain unemployed once the pandemic is over.”
Ghany warns that companies hoping to progress beyond the pandemic must stop the “she-cession” by finding ways to ensure that more women return to the workforce post-pandemic. “Picking up the pieces and moving forward cannot come at the expense and disposal of our women from the labour force,” Ghany says. “We have come too far as a society to be making the same mistakes we did in the past. That’s why I am saying that every company today must increase their diversity mandate and ensure that women are retained in their previous positions.”
However, Ghany says companies must go a step further and begin the process of hiring more women and providing more leadership opportunities for them to succeed professionally once the pandemic is over. She says COVID-19 is showing that the world needs more women leaders. “A new future is currently unfolding, one that needs to take into account the skills, leadership and resources provided by women,” Ghany says. "Therefore, there is no reason why women should not have a place or position in the boardrooms across every company and corporation in the world."
The AMCHAM T&T President believes mentorship programs can assist in this regard because they dismantle the roadblocks women face when they ask for more or try to ascend the corporate ladder. “Companies providing mentorship as a career accelerator are showing women that they value their contributions, respect their voices, and are willing to invest in women to help them grow and achieve success.” Ghany says she hopes to see more glass ceilings being shattered in a post-pandemic world. “When that happens, women will know that the opportunities exist for them to find their voice, claim their space, and lead with success.”
Carina Cockburn, Country Manager to Trinidad and Tobago at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) also says the pandemic has severely impacted women, especially across six Caribbean countries according to a recent IDB study. “The findings showed that women have reported more job losses during the pandemic than men because of the types of roles and positions that they are employed in,” Cockburn says.
In addition, “there has been an unfortunate increase in the incidence of reported domestic violence. In Trinidad and Tobago, that increase is estimated at 13.6%. In addition to that, we found that female-headed households have lower financial resilience with no access to bank accounts and savings.”
Cockburn says when dealing with these issues, mentorship programmes are one means which the IDB has used to help women. “The mandate of the IDB is on improving lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we certainly see mentorship as one strategy to help us achieve this goal,” Cockburn says. “The impact of mentorship extends beyond those who directly participate, but in turn, to those whom you interface with and apply the skills and knowledge that you gain from the program. So, it really has a kind of multiplier effect, which is what we're looking for.”
The 4th Cycle of the AMCHAM T&T/IDB Women in Leadership Mentorship programme will be held entirely virtually again this year due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-eight (28) women working in various fields across the private sector have signed up to be matched with a mentor aligned to their career goals in this year’s cohort. Mentorship opportunities are being offered to women across all sectors and industries, including, Science & Mathematics, Technology, Engineering and Economics, Occupational Health and Safety etc.
The Women in Leadership Mentorship Programme will run from June through November 2021. For more information on the program, please visit our website or contact Rey-Anne Paynter-Mendez @firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joint Statement On Meeting With Ministers
AMCHAM T&T, T&T Chamber and TTMA would like to thank the Prime Minister for arranging the hosting of the joint meeting with various Business Service Organizations and Ministers.
As responsible advocates of the private sector, we look forward to ongoing collaboration with the Government to restart the economy responsibly and get business operational. We recognise the government cannot do this alone we want to ensure that the private sector does ALL that is required to support the Government and the People of Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of the key points our group recommended were:
The Private sector fully appreciates the gravity of the current situation. Businesses are suffering and are under tremendous strain after months of limited and, in many cases, no sales. Nonetheless, we are also fully cognizant that we are all in this together and that some intense pain now may reduce longer term suffering. More importantly, it may save lives. As such, we suggest that the government consider introducing additional measures to reduce the movement and interaction of citizens in the public domain over the next two weeks.
In order for businesses and citizens to plan and have a line of sight between individual behaviour and consequences, we believe the Government should develop and make public a “scale-up / scale-down” approach to restrictions based on pre-defined metrics, weighted across various criteria (Private sector can assist). This approach should result in predictable and consistent restrictions/ease of restrictions which will allow businesses to plan and citizens to understand the consequences of increased cases. In the re-opening period, businesses can be classed along a scale of low to high risk with appropriate protocols being
developed for each group.
The only way to effectively reduce the threats of the virus is for a minimum of 1,000,000 people to be vaccinated in T&T. As such, the private sector can assist. What is required is a clear, formal policy for companies to import vaccines where possible.
There were some specific areas we focused on such as:
Ease restrictions for exporters who have inventory and orders to be filled. There should be a phased reopening of the Manufacturing Sector and thus in Phase 1, there should be consideration for exporters with inventories in hand with export orders (and adopting all safety and COVID Protocols) be allowed to facilitate those sales. Secondly, given the management of the numbers of COVID cases, there should be a further relaxation of restrictions allowing all manufacturers with export orders to be given permission to
There should also be a phased reopening of businesses who have built the digital infrastructure and invested heavily in technological and logistical infrastructure prior to the onset of the pandemic and have since pivoted their businesses to support various forms of digital commerce, contactless customer engagement and direct fulfilment. The pivot in these business processes provide the opportunity to limit the number of staff coming out to “traditional places of work” whilst providing gainful and remote employment for many of those employees supporting digital commerce. It also reduces the movement of consumers who can get contactless delivery.
As we balance lives and livelihood, a differentiated policy for fully vaccinated persons to enter and exit T&T. If people leave T&T and get fully vaccinated and wait an appropriate period for immunity to be build (predefined) they should be allowed back in, travel restrictions, including quarantine should be loosened. Such people should not necessarily have the financial burden of hotel quarantine or burden the state quarantine facilities. Additional flights should also be added to facilitate the above (with appropriate restrictions being followed).
AMCHAM T&T Responds to New COVID-19 Restrictions.
We acknowledge that the country is in a precarious position with regard to the increase in the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.
While there are several issues to be addressed in this regard, we are where we are at this point. As such, the measures announced appear to be necessary at this time. We appreciate that the Government is attempting to balance several very difficult factors. We also acknowledge that the Prime Minister is playing a leading role in global vaccine equity advocacy. The acquisition of vaccines has to be our number one priority moving forward.
We urge everyone to act responsibly and do all that they can to curb the spread of the virus.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
AMCHAM T&T Promotes Building Investible Businesses in T&T
The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) in collaboration with our partners at Become Investible hosted the Webinar: “Building An Investible Business” to provide business leaders with direct access to expert investors and finance professionals. This Webinar sought to demystify the investment process, address the challenges with attracting investment, and provide insights into what SMEs can do to access funding from outside traditional channels.
Despite the country’s current economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, AMCHAM T&T believes the roadmap to recovery is dependent on ensuring T&T remains an attractive and sought-after investment hub for both local and foreign investors. “While we are in the process of vaccine administration, we must continue seeking out new opportunities and implement better strategies that will help us remain a competitive and attractive destination to conduct business,” says Melissa Pierre, Senior Trade and Policy Specialist at AMCHAM T&T.
“For this to happen we are going to need a more collaborative environment that is facilitated by more tailored policies to overcome restrictions and barriers to trade and foreign direct investment. We have started this work already, but we can’t afford to have COVID-19 push us even further behind which forces us to play catch up,” Pierre said. “The private sector will continue to have a vital role in the local economy after the pandemic and therefore businesses will need more open, transparent and dependable conditions that must ensure everything from the ease of doing business to easier transactions at the ports, flexible labor markets, and protection on intellectual property rights so that SMEs can attract investors.”
Pierre said T&T can look to Jamaica who has utilized private equity as an important tool in the financial system that has proven beneficial to business. “In Jamaica, private equity and the junior stock exchange have been important sources of capital for growth. Jamaica has something like a dozen private equity shops and several companies listed on the junior exchange while T&T has one private equity shop and two companies on the junior exchange. So, T&T needs financing vehicles to fill the gaps not being served by traditional financial institutions. Furthermore, access to financing is not always about the availability of capital. In fact, T&T is very liquid. The issue is often how SME's present their case.”
Meanwhile, Kevin C. Valley, Founder and Managing Director at Become Investible says the Caribbean business financing ecosystem needs an evolution. “Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean are largely underserved by existing financial structures and face significant challenges in accessing finance to grow and scale their businesses. Many businesses in the region lack understanding of what investors/lenders are looking for and how to find the right sources and types of financing, and do not consider what is needed to build a business that is prepared for the future and can scale and generate income for generations.”
Kriss Marcus, General Manager of Aspire Fund Management Company Limited (T&T) says companies that possess strong business models have been overleveraged over the last 1-2 decades arising out of limited financing options outside of the traditional debt markets. “I would assert that if these companies can extinguish debts to more comfortable levels with the injection of private equity, these companies will position themselves to go public. Our SME Stock Exchange is at present, under-participated and to the extent that the Minister of Finance introduced incentives for SMEs is laying a good foundation for another wave of non-energy sector economic development and foreign exchange earning capability. The missing component between these companies moving from their current state to becoming publicly traded is accessing private equity.”
Karrian Hepburn-Malcolm, Vice President, Sales & Service at Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation says there is a growing need, especially among younger persons, to become successful entrepreneurs. As such, under the pillar of Entrepreneurship, the Unit Trust Corporation created several entrepreneurial initiatives: the URPRENEUR video series, podcast, and hub; Scale Up; and sponsorship, partnerships and awards with other institutions.
“These initiatives are specially geared to facilitate the advancement, development, encouragement, recognition and support needed by entrepreneurs from the Unit Trust Corporation,” Hepburn says. “Given the aim of this event at highlighting what entrepreneurs should focus on when preparing to approach investors and when building sustainable, scalable businesses, we at the UTC felt that this event aligned with our entrepreneurial vision to nurture and support businesses in their continued growth and expansion.”
Christopher Williams, CEO of PROVEN Management Ltd. says the biggest challenge that confronts entrepreneurs is making sure their businesses have the right mix of competence and capital. “What I have found in my experience is that very attractive competence attracts capital. Put the focus as much as possible in putting together good competence. How you do that is first ensuring that your own experience is solid. Then put together a strong competence team, not just people will who are like-minded or are your friends. Put together a strong competent team so that the competence can attract the capital.”
Beresford Grey, CEO of Sygmus Group in Jamaica also says having a strong team helped his company to list on the Jamaican Stock Exchange after only 12 months in operations. “When you are thinking about raising capital and growing your business and you look at the stock exchange as one avenue to raise capital then you have to start over from day one with the mindset of a very organized business covering everything from your accounting to your operations, and your governance structure.” Beresford said Sygmus created an early growth structure starting with investing in their leadership at the board level, their operations and then the competency of their team which helped position the company as a creditable organization with a strong leadership team and governance structure, that can be entrusted with capital.
Vashtie Dookiesingh, Senior Specialist at the IDB Group (T&T) says entrepreneurs must also operate with a value-oriented mindset to grow and become attractive to investors. “The fundamentals of business are the same: how are you creating value, which means you are addressing a problem. But most importantly, how do you capture value from what you're delivering? You need to have a very clear idea. So be in love with the problem that you're solving and not necessarily the solution or the channel that you're seeking to use to solve that problem because situations can change, and you will need to pivot as the situation demands.”
AMCHAM T&T would like to thank Become Investible for their support and partnership on this important issue as we believe the Pathway to the Americas is built on ensuring T&T remains an attractive investment destination to foreign and domestic investors that will ensure further economic growth and sustainable development. AMCHAM T&T would also like to thank our Sponsor: Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation for their support to host this Webinar and for taking strong leadership on the topic.
AMCHAM T&T remains strongly committed to our members and the wider business community as we continue to work on your behalf through these challenging times.
For further questions or comments please contact: Melissa Pierre, Senior Trade and Policy Specialist at AMCHAM T&T at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMCHAM T&T Extends Condolences To The Family of Senator Franklin Khan
The American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (AMCHAM T&T) extends condolences to the family of the Minister of Energy and Energy Industries the Hon Franklin Khan. Senator Khan was a gentleman who always sought to discharge his public duties diligently. In the 2002 – 2005 period, he was often described as a “super-minister” as the then Government’s go-to problem solver.
In our interaction with him, Senator Khan was always open and engaging. His signature smile provided a window to his personality. He was willing to listen and consider different points of view. His steely competence and commitment towards national development have left an indelible mark on Trinidad and Tobago.
We hope that his family and loved ones are able to find peace and comfort in the significant contribution that he has made, and the memories they shared. May he rest in eternal peace.
For further questions or comments please contact: Nirad Tewarie, CEO AMCHAM T&T at email@example.com.
62 Maraval Road,
Newtown, Port of Spain
T: (868) 622-0340, 622-4466,
F: (868) 628-9428
Email AMCHAM T&T
P.O. Bag 150, Newtown,
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago.
HSE Excellence Awards
National Youth Productivity Forum
Copyright © AMCHAM T&T