On Friday, November 20, the TT Chamber will host its annual Champions of Business Awards ceremony. In keeping with protocols surrounding covid19, this year’s awards will be a virtual event, broadcast on CNC3 from 8 pm and streamed live to wherever our audience may be around the globe.
Business technology, sponsored by bmobile, was introduced just two years ago, and will be watched with increased interest this year, given the need for the accelerated switch to digital modes. The two past winners in this category aptly demonstrate the potential of this sector. Both have been innovators in their field, and have continued a growth trajectory since winning the awards.
In 2018, WiPay (Trinidad and Tobago) Ltd copped the award for their innovative online platform offering payment solutions to both corporate and individual clients. Its chief executive officer, Aldwyn Wayne said, “I founded WiPay in 2016 because of the unprecedented level of financial exclusion for unbanked persons in the Caribbean. I wanted to help Caribbean people and SMEs…in order for their businesses to prosper and conduct regional and international business easier.” WiPay removed a significant barrier for online payments and created a groundswell of interest for e-commerce and e-government services that require quick processing and easy accessibility.
Since receiving the award, the company has made significant strides, including a partnership with Mastercard. This will offer benefits to SMEs and individuals. They will leverage Mastercard’s Bank in the Box solution to benefit SMEs which do not accept card payments and will also issue a Mastercard prepaid card in partnership with a local financial institution, allowing for transparent disbursement of funds for SMEs and citizens. It will also enhance the provision of payment services to government programs such as CourtPay and GovPay among others.
Plans are for the solutions to be available in Jamaica and TT, followed by Grenada, Guyana, Dominica, Barbados, St. Kitts, St Lucia, St Vincent.
The 2019 programme saw Term Finance emerging as the award recipient. Term Finance, the Caribbean’s first completely web-based credit institution, “offers responsible short-term loans to individuals and SMEs in a transparent, affordable and convenient way”. It currently operates in TT, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and St Lucia. To achieve its goals of providing clients with an efficient, private and responsible solution to their credit needs, while treating them with respect and compassion, the entire end-to-end loan process is online, allowing them to access services 24/7, anywhere in the world, using any smart device.
It has continued to use innovative methods to meet market conditions as demonstrated in its responses to covid19. Following the onset of the pandemic the company repurposed members of its customer service team to provide financial wellbeing advice to its clients. It reached out to its corporate partners across the region, sharing their plan for a Financial Wellbeing Hotline, using some members of its lending team.
In May 2020, Term Finance (Barbados) Ltd launched an online retail financing platform for Barbados-based stores to offer credit terms to their customers. The company indicated that iShop and Genius Lynk, retailers of laptops and similar devices, were the first two companies to use its platform. And in September, Term Finance Holdings in collaboration with 3Stone Ltd, launched a new loan facility for SMEs – SME TT. Similar to its employee loans process, SME TT utilises a fully online process without lengthy wait times. Oliver Sabga, Term Finance CEO, noted that “A study a few years back indicated that SMEs generate approximately 30 per cent of our country’s GDP. If we can support SMEs in their growth missions, we can grow the economy.”
The hallmark of entrepreneurship is to seize opportunity, and both these companies have been able show why they deserved to be business technology champions.