SENATOR Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, has said sport has a crucial part to play in the diversification of the TT economy.
While acknowledging the value of sport to society in general, she said the untapped potential that sport offers and the concomitant business opportunities cannot be overemphasised.
Gopee-Scoon, was delivering the keynote address at the third annual TT Olympic Committee Sport Industry TT Conference at the Hyatt Regency, on Thursday.
Gopee-Scoon said, “Sport is part of our social fabric that permeates our development regardless of race, religion, class and status in society. As a country, we are therefore required to harness the benefits of sport, and to use it as a mechanism for our own growth and development; so that outside of the social and health spheres, there are entrepreneurial opportunities that are to be exploited in this very wide sporting arena.
“Sport today has a key role in the diversification of the economy. The marketplace has changed. Our minds should extend therefore beyond the traditional sectors of oil and gas, to sport — and in particular the business of sport — as an industry which offers a myriad of entrepreneurial possibilities and opportunities,” she added.
She said the government’s commitment to the development of a local sporting industry is evident in the investment made in sporting infrastructure, as well as the official positioning of sport tourism as a viable incipient industry with a focus on sport services, sport events and sport infrastructure.
The Trade and Industry Minister encouraged participants and potential sport entrepreneurs, particularly women, to not only uncover opportunities in the many sport-related areas like events management, equipment rental, graphic design, and technology, but to also take advantage of financing support from Government of up to TT$100,000 through the recently established Development Fund for start-ups and existing businesses. She also noted that with the finals of the Caribbean Premier League being held in TT for the next three years, it will create numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs as the event generated an estimated TT$23 million in sport tourism revenue in 2017. Gopee-Scoon highlighted the significance of the conference coinciding with International Women’s Day as the international theme of #pressforprogress aligned with the conference theme of Youth, Young People and Women: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Entrepreneurship.
During the panel discussions that followed, a cross-section of experts and entrepreneurs in business, finance, sport, law, media and entertainment guided participants through engaging talks on four key topic areas: creating an entrepreneurial eco-System in TT; the political and legal environment that fosters entrepreneurships; creating human connections that build brands and drive growth; and how do potential lenders and investors evaluate the business plan?