TEN Tobago manufacturers now have the opportunity to showcase their products, increase their brand awareness and widen their local and international customer base.
This follows Wednesday's launch of the Tobago e-Pavilion by the Ministry of Trade and Industry in conjunction with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Division of Finance and the Economy.
The initiative is a project of exporTT Limited under the export booster initiative, which forms part of a Tobago capacity-building programme. Tobago Pavilion can be found on the shop caribe platform at www.shopcaribe.com.
According to Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon, the initiative presents a small but significant step in the right direction towards digitisation of the Tobago economy.
“This initiative is timely given the accelerated advancement in the global e-commerce landscape which continues to grow at unprecedented rates causing radical change in consumer and business markets.”
She said for the Ministry of Trade and Export TT, the development of the Tobago e-pavilion is an obvious choice for Tobago businesses.
“E-commerce once done properly will allow for 24/7 access to buyers and sellers regardless of location. This e-Pavilion follows in the wake of the national e-commerce policy 2017-2021, which articulates the government’s commitment to create an environment that promotes and expands the private sector participation and the utilisation of e-commerce and ensures that businesses and consumers have the necessary tools and resources to derive tangible benefits.”
THA Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack said the platform represents another stage in the journey undertaken by the assembly to enhance the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) sector as part of the diversification thrust.
“At the assembly level, (through) the reorganisation of the Business Development Unit, we have afforded Tobago’s SMEs the opportunity to access seed funding with the establishment of the enterprise assistant grant and in addition to providing training, technical support through the strategic BDU, and since then we can say with assurance that a number of the SMEs have benefited and our estimates suggest that over 2,000 SMEs would have benefited from our initiatives and training programmes over the many years.”
He said foresight and vision are the key ingredients in successfully traversing the entrepreneurial landscape. The collaboration, he said, is likely to reap major dividends and rewards for Tobago’s SMEs.
“As the economy of Tobago expands and the true measure of our contribution to nation GDP becomes more available and evident, increased emphasis will be placed on how we harness the success of our SMEs to accelerate and drive Tobago’s development. It is the responsibility of the THA to provide an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and the wider private sector to succeed, and this is responsibility we hold dear to our heart.”
He further commended the manufacturers selected to be part of the pilot programme; five of whom, he said, have been a part of the division’s effort over the years to expand the private sector and to provide opportunities for export, including through their participation in the trade and investment convention.
The manufacturers includes Crown and Luxe, Khanica and Sons Pure Coconut Oil, LCJ Delights, Pinkberri Kosmetique, Teabago, Tobago Wyck, Tom Tom's Local Confectionery, Luvalwayz Organic and Natural Body Products, Kennedy Agro-Processing Limited, and AngelEyes Organic Beauty Products.
Ghyanne Edwards-Jack, the founder of Crown and Luxe, said social media has played a big part in the company's growth.
“I’m really active on social media so when I made my first item that was meant for my hair, I shared it on Facebook and Instagram and a couple of my friends and family were interested in it – that’s basically how the business was born.”
Some of her main items are satin hair bonnets, pillowcases, scarfs, masks and robes.
“Throughout the years, since 2018 when I started we really gained a loyal following in the local audience. So, I’m really excited to partner with Export TT and Shop Caribe to see how we can expand on the foreign market.”
Tobago’s Wyck’s owner Gizelle Drue said, “My goal for Tobago Wyck is to become international – carry itself across the Caricom for persons to really know that quality candles, quality wax products can come right out of Tobago.
"I am very happy and grateful for this opportunity from Export TT and Shop Caribe. I think it's fantastic; the timing is perfect and I think it would assist many of us to take our products above and beyond.”