02 Oct 2020
Speaking is Jodi Boodhoo, Deputy Chairman of Invest Saint Lucia and Chairman of the Boost Task Force.

BOOST was officially launched on September 30, 2020 at the Finance Administrative Centre in Pointe Seraphine, Castries. BOOST is a virtual incubator and accelerator programme powered by Startup Space. Invest Saint Lucia has spearheaded this project over the past two years and worked towards the launch together with a task force made up of agencies Export Saint Lucia, Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB), St Manufacturer’s Association, National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) and the St. Lucia Coalition of Service Industries.

At the launch, BOOST project coordinator, Mr Dave Headley, started, “Today marks significant development for our entrepreneurship space. Despite the many challenges we faced, BOOST is the first of its kind in Saint Lucia: a virtual community of strategic partners, startups, entrepreneurs, and business minded individuals working together to transform the entrepreneurship landscape even further. And by extension it will catalyse the innovative culture that thrives on island.”

Mr Jodi Boodhoo, chairman of the BOOST task force, (and deputy chairman of Invest Saint Lucia) briefly explained how the Invest Saint Lucia Board of Directors decided on a business incubator and accelerator programme. He said, “The board commissioned a survey that would eventually change the agency’s perspective on how we want to approach entrepreneurship culture and facilitate more local investment opportunities. There’s a stigma attached to Invest Saint Lucia that’s it’s attached only to foreign direct investment, and that’s not true.”

He explained that the aim of the survey was to gain market intelligence that would inform all stakeholders’ strategic approach to assist small businesses in their growth potential. “In the findings, it turned out that one of the most significant needs was space. The survey also showed that several agro-processing, ICT and even service providing businesses were looking for spaces to house manufacturing equipment or electronics, space to perform processes, to facilitate for seating, or in some cases they just needed an affordable place to set up a desk, chair and phone to call their own.

“The board decided to tackle these issues. Lack of space is obviously something which affects the stability and sustainability of small businesses and startups around the island. But from other research, we also knew that simply providing empty space is not the answer.”

Mr Headley explained that as part of Invest Saint Lucia’s mandate to stimulate local economic growth, BOOST was commissioned by the Board of Directors to fill in the gap between entrepreneurs and access to services that can carry them to success. He continued, “Startup Space provides the opportunity for communities to come together and share substantial information, find key resources, and support and build businesses all from the touch of your electronic devices. BOOST features include a personal profile for all users, community forums for conversations, interactive learning platforms, a curated collection of local resources and a comprehensive community events calendar which many of our stakeholders will take advantage of.”

Finally, he emphasized the overall role BOOST will play in Saint Lucia, “We want to connect ideas to investors, we want to connect business-minded people to information, we want to connect innovation to expertise, we want to connect research to service, but most of all we want to connect entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs and we want to bridge the gap between a businessperson and all the organisations and agencies who can take them to success.”

Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, International Trade, Investment, Enterprise Development and Consumer Affairs, Mrs Sophia Henry congratulated Invest Saint Lucia and thanked the diligent work of the CEO Roderick Cherry and staff in her role as director on the board. She commended the agency for seamlessly moving into digital services which will ensure BOOST’s sustainability in the post COVID-19 world.

Entrepreneurs or persons with business ideas are encouraged to sign up to BOOST at www.boostsaintlucia.com. Everyone is invited to follow Boost’s social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn @booststlucia.