In February 2017, Jamaica hosted the 10th Caribbean Meeting of Minister of Labor. During this meeting, it was highlighted the fact that even though the Caribbean has made significant social and economic improvements in the past 20 years, the global economic deceleration and the decrease of commodities prices are directly affecting short and medium-term development prospects of the region. The Caribbean is also more susceptible to natural disasters.
The 2017 hurricane season left islands of the Caribbean with extraordinary levels of destruction. Hurricanes Maria and Irma, among others, left a traceable path of devastation in the lives of millions of people. At the High-Level Roundtable on Recovery and Resilience in the Caribbean, former World Bank President, Dr. Jim Kim, highlighted, “we need to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to compound challenges of the Caribbean.”1
The employment of programs such as the Caribbean Innovation Competition, which encourages and promotes innovative ideas and their implementation, bolsters the much-needed spirit of resilience and recovery. All of this, in line and aiming towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, such as Goal 8, which supports the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
The Caribbean Innovation Competition - CIC The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Organization of American States (OAS), in collaboration with regional partners, will launch the Eighth Edition of the Caribbean Innovation Competition (CIC 8.0), a special award category of the Talent and Innovation Competition of the Americas (TIC Americas), with the objective to engage young people from the Caribbean to work together with governments, private sector, and international organizations in the development of the “engines of growth” that will create more and better job opportunities for young people in the Caribbean.
CIC 8.0 will run parallel with TIC Americas, and it will host its finals at the 50th OAS General Assembly. By connecting CIC with the OAS General Assembly, young people from the Caribbean will have the opportunity to prepare, debate, and present their recommendations and plans of action to the Governments attending the Assembly, having a direct impact in decision making processes for policy and priorities definition.
The program relies on a collaborative, regional support network of national partner institutions and stakeholders that have been supporting the CIC efforts from its beginning. This network is confirmed by over 150 collaborators that include Governments, National Ministries, NGO’s, private and public sector institutions, universities and young people in the countries participating.
The CIC was originally launched in 2012 as a component of the Youth-IN Programme of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Barbados and the OECS, and implemented by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), following the hemispheric model of the Talent and Innovation Competition of the Americas (TIC Americas).
In 2015, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The University of the West Indies, CIC was incorporated as a component of the Caribbean Regional Entrepreneurial Asset Commercialization Hub (REACH). In 2018, through an alliance between the World Bank and YABT, CIC was incorporated as a regional competition in TIC Americas 2018, an entrepreneurship component of the V Young Americas Forum of the VIII Summit of the Americas in Peru. Local stakeholders have provided support in training, mentoring, judging, follow up services, and promotion of the various components of the program since 2012. YABT has provided support to partners and CIC Alumni through Business Labs workshops in order to improve their business models and growth strategy.
In 2019, the Caribbean Innovation Competition will focus on the themes of Resilience and Climate Change. This will allow entrepreneurs to present projects that support the understanding of the reasons and effects of Climate Change. According to John T Hardy, Climate change is taking place in an unprecedented rate. If the habits of human beings are not changed, life on Earth will be inextricably altered. Research shows that climate change is recognized as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities.
An example of the serious impact of climate change in the Caribbean is that of the Sargassum issue for many, if not all the Caribbean islands. Research indicates that from 2011, the shores of several Caribbean islands and West African countries were inundated by unprecedented quantities of pelagic sargassum. Since then, influxes of this golden-brown seaweed have become a recurrent event in both the Caribbean Sea and West Africa, with observers in these regions reporting levels reaching a critical high in 2018” (Hinds et al., 2016).
1. Phase 1 (Semi-Finals): Teams complete their concept paper, business model, a tool for online presence (website, Facebook group or blog) and a collage of promotional photos, video or graphical presentation. A BOOT (Business Opportunity On-line Training) Camp and various technical resources are available to Teams to develop their ideas into solid projects and to create a practical strategy for implementation. Groups of international judges will review these plans and select the top three Finalists to move onto the Finals.
2. Phase 2 (Finals): This year, the Finals will be presented in a Virtual Format, where the Finalists and the international judging committee will interact with each other via an online platform. Both the Finalists and the judges will be trained in the usage of the platform before the Finals. The structure of the presentation by the Finalists will maintain its original outline.
The Finalists will also have the opportunity to showcase their products and services within an online approach, by each having their own landing page and providing the relevant content about their projects to showcase to all the participants attending the online Finals activities.
The Finals is presented in a Virtual Format this year due to the commitment of strictly following the protective and security measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the international public health emergency situation caused by the COVID-19.