In the hunt for a sustainable solution, this GreenTech startup is giving garbage a second life

With over ten years of work experience in the oil field coupled with a lack of appreciation and treated less than for his initiative and hard work. Treadstone Ltd founder Gyasi Williams is making strides with his Grow Box to encourage the movement of sustainable foods. Gyasi decided to take all his efforts and hardworking principals to creating his own business. “ To be honest, I have always had a hustling spirit, since junior sec selling VHS, magazines anything I could get my hands on; upon leaving school with no job, I would give lessons; sell old remodeled appliances, scrap metals. I always try to make my buck in any way”.

The raw numbers make for daunting reading. One in 10 people out of the current global population of 7.4 billion already goes hungry. Crop yields that soared in the decades after the Second World War are flat-lining, and the UN predicts there will be 2.3 billion more mouths to feed by 2050. In the Caribbean alone with a population of over 17 million, 7.5 million in 2014-16 documented as undernourished according to the UN report of CARICOM food insecurity.  

With a longtime love for recycling, creativity and woodworking sustainable; In addition to his admiration for Wayne Ramsey’s woodworking for mere mortals, Gyasi decided to take a shot at using pallets to make furniture. “I was trying as a novice woodworker then I decided; let me do something that was woodworking and gardening in one and that is how I came to building the grow boxes, and the rest is history.” Since his victory in the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC), Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp in Trinidad his business started to gain traction “I have had at least 3-4 orders for grow boxes coming in every week or garden accessories like the benches or the tables”.

An additionally reward for winning the bootcamp, Gyasi received automatic entry into CCIC’s consortium in Trinidad & Tobago The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) hatchery program where he acquired training in the areas of business development, prototyping and access to the market.

Tell me about your innovation? How does it work?

Grow box is the taking something that somebody considered trash and turning it into something more desirable. It is the recycling and upcycling of old pallets to create a new life for food growth. The boxes will rot and turn into compost while some pallets are solely designed to be weather resistant.

How has Treadstone Ltd grown following the Hatchery program?

The hatchery program was very insightful; I learned a lot about prototyping, business model development and how to deal with various markets. Sales for our grow boxes has as increased in volumes instead of single. Though this is great to have a steady inflow of business the company currently focuses more concentrate on the development of recycled furniture and homegrown seasonings using the grow boxes. Some of the seasonings we now produce are tarragon, dill, basil, rosemary, and cilantro. Through the hatchery program, I have learned a lot about prototyping.

What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Well-being an entrepreneur so far I realize that I have to work more for the customers than for myself. As at times, I put my vision into what I am making, and I have come to learn it is better to tailor my creations or my products for the customers. As they know what they are looking for and willing to spend and it is in my favor to get the best feedback from them to understand what exactly they want and to deliver it. 

What impact are you expecting your business to have on the environment? Alternatively, what impacts are you counting on for your business?

Well for the environment sake it is straight forward to me that people will try their best to have some initiative to plant. The country, on the whole, is in a state where we import a lot instead of growing our own. I am afraid that sometime in the further we will end up like Venezuela or Greece. So this is our initiative that we will impact people in a way that they will see the importance of growing their food. Ours grow box is here to minimize the excuse of having no space, time or facility. It is a small way to impact people to have a greater food basket and also supplement their income so they will have more money to spend on other things, to save and in the case of food prices hike they will have their food at their disposal. They will be able to teach their children the importance of planting their food and the joys of food security.

For Further information and updates on Treadstone Ltd, you can contact Gyasi Williams at gyasiwilliams60@gmail.com

 

Cashyaka McDonald

Marketing Officer

Caribbean Climate Innovation Center

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AND HERE’S THE PITCH: Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp Island Hop Wraps Up

The Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp Island- Hop series concluded on December 3, 2016, in Dominica. Roots Herbal Smart Farm emerged, with its line of all natural skin products, emerged as the victor.

“The bootcamp — what can I say? It was a very intense program.  You know I felt like my head was bursting at a certain point but I hang in there and I kept focused, and I executed, just naturally, because of the project or the work I embarked on — I am very passionate about it, so it came from the bosom to the audience. I thank the organizers of the bootcamp for the opportunity” said Reynold Deschamps, founder, Rootz Herbal Smart Farm

This intense bootcamp series kicked off at the end of August 2016 starting off in St. Lucia then onwards to Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Belize and the lasts stop in Dominica. The respective GreenTech innovator’s victors are:

 Eze Green Energy Company (Saint Lucia) produces biodiesel from waste vegetable oil

The Local App (Antigua & Barbuda) a one-stop go-to information source for everything and anything cleantech locally in any country.

SHU (Barbados) a smart mosquito repellent monitored through a software app

 Earth Builders (Belize) – construction company using cleantech technology

 Rootz Herbal Smart Farm (Dominica)- A clean technology operated farm which focuses on the generation of all natural skin care products.

Throughout the Boot Camp, each of the several dozen attendees worked to refine their business ideas with the information they acquired from Local and international experts. Participants also received feedback on their concepts and plans from a network of industry experts acting mentors. For the final pitch session, which highlighted the Boot Camp’s team’s progress to date, panelists came from various business and cleantech sectors.

The pitching sessions showed a diversity of green technologies being cultivated across the region, including devices, nutraceuticals, apps, aqua/hydroponic farms, energy solutions, among others for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, Belize Minister of Economic Development, bootcamp specially invited speaker and guest, said, “all CARICOM countries are directly benefitting from this Green Tech Start Up boot camp Island Tech series.

Dominica Public Awareness Officer in the Environmental Coordinating Unit, Jahisiah Benoit hailed CCIC GreenTech bootcamp.  “This is a new approach to business development,” he said. “Often we only hear about business development regarding business plan and access to credit, but here we can think of business in terms of being a way to ensure that Dominica can meet its sustainable development goals.”

Benoit continued, “It is a means of ensuring a way that entrepreneurs can be the change they want to see in the economy and create employment for themselves and their peers.”

This year’s participants are the first to experience the Boot Camp curriculum, and the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center will continue to improve upon our materials and will continue to support our GreenTech entrepreneurs through mentoring and more events to enable them to refine their business concepts further.

Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp participants received a certificate of completion and may compete in upcoming events being hosted by the Center.

 

For information about CCIC upcoming 2017 events, contact info@caribbeancic.org and for live updates like and follow our social media pages

Facebook (@caribcic)

Twitter (@caribbeanclimate)

Instagram (@Caribbeancic)

SNEAK PEEK AT THE FUTURE OF BUILDING – GREEN BUILDERS TRIUMPHED AT GREENTECH BOOTCAMP IN BELIZE

The Caribbean Climate Innovation in Collaboration with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) announced the winners of the Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp (CGSB) in Belize, which was based on the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to address the effects of climate change.  The competition winners were announced during the kickoff of Global Entrepreneurship week in Belize. Visualized by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center, CGSB takes a unique approach in developing and selecting the highest level of scalable and sustainable business innovations focused on addressing the effects of climate change. The event has a rising attendance with more than 50 startup teams formed and equipped with the business knowledge to take their startup to the next level of technology commercialization.

Green Builders received the coveted first place award for their sustainable approach to green construction. Based on their aggressive approach and demonstration of innovation Green Machine and Belize recycling company was awarded second and third place consecutively.
 

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Photo 1 Project Manager for the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center Carlinton Burrell with Green builders winners of CGSB Belize

Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp serves as a reminder of the lengths we still need to go to develop a truly sustainable enterprise to address the challenges of climate change being faced. While none of these projects have achieved global technology commercialization status, this competition celebrates the highest level of environmental performance currently achieved. Innovations such as Green builders provide hope for the buildings of the future.

Award recipients were selected by an expert panel of judges, consisting of Mrs. Nilda iverol, Manager, SBDCBelize, Beltraide, Mr. Michael Singh, CEO, BATLCO and Chief Technology Officer, Office of the Prime Minister, Ms.Nicole Jacobs, Economic Growth & Capacity Development Advisor, RTI International Development Group.

This competition was open to the Caribbean and International Entrepreneurs who are interested in launch green technology companies within the Caribbean. Projects applying to be a part of Caribbean GreenTech Startup must be registered in a CARICOM affiliated country.

The winning project will be featured on an upcoming blog on CCIC’s website: http://www.caribbeancic.org

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Photo 2 Second place winners Green Machine with Judge Mrs. Nilda Riverol and Mr. Carlinton Burrell, Project Manager, CCIC
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Photo 3 CCIC Project Manager Mr. Carlinton Burrell with third place winners Belize Recycling Company

 

About The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center

The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center is a consortium comprising the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in Trinidad and Tobago and the Scientific Research Council (SRC) in Jamaica. The CCIC is one of three pillars of infoDev’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year program funded by the Government of Canada through the World Bank.

Our objective is to identify and support Caribbean entrepreneurs and new ventures that are developing locally-appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation, thereby providing an SME-driven approach to solving climate, energy and resource challenges in the region.  We focus on building the clean technology, start-up ecosystem that addresses climate-related business needs in the Caribbean. This initiative is achieved by implementing the following four programs across the fourteen participating Caribbean countries: Idea generation sessions, Bootcamps, Accelerator programs and incubation programs. For more information on the CCIC, please visit our website at http://www.caribbeancic.org. If you have any questions or need further information, feel free to contact us at (876-977-2154 or info@caribbeancic.org)

Smart Mosquito Repellent Attracts Top Prize At Startup Bootcamp

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Luke Coyle presents the winning business idea, SHU!

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday, October 31, 2016 – An idea for a smart mosquito repellent monitored through a software app has emerged the winning idea at the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) Greentech Startup Bootcamp in Barbados.

SHU! Won the first prize of US$1,000 after a team of Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic and Barbados Community College students pitched the idea to a panel of esteemed judges on the final day of the three-day bootcamp held at the Cave Hill School of Business recently.

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Team members of the winning business idea, SHU!, with CoESL’s managing director Dr. Marcia Brandon (extreme left) and CCIC’s project manager Carlinton Burrell (second left).

The second prize of US$500 went to Forté Agrosciences which proposed using fish offal to develop a chemical-free liquid fertilizer, while Greentech Agri-business Center took the third prize of US$250. The other team, Pacific Dream, which pitched vertical aquaponic farming to produce premium fruits and vegetables was also commended.

In announcing the winners, head judge Dr. Jeannine Comma reported that it had been a tough choice for her and fellow judges Dr. Monica Masino and Leighton Waterman because of the high quality of ideas and work presented by the budding entrepreneurs.

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“We think this is an excellent project and it was a tough decision for us…We had four winners,” she said, after telling the participants that their plans were “very interesting…and obviously needed in our community.”

The pitches and the announcement of winners were the climaxes of the bootcamp that was organized by the CCIC’s hub in Barbados, the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (CoESL).

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Over the three days, the 21 participants heard from local experts in renewable energy and other green areas in an Idea Generation Session (IGS) who spoke about the challenges in the sector, which helped the boot campers develop Greentech business ideas; were advised by several mentors who advised them on how to take their businesses forward; and were coached by Kristyna Zapletalova, chief executive officer and founder of MAQTOOB, and Adil Gherib, the company’s co-founder and chief operations officer.

At the end of the intense 54-hour event, the coaches, organizers, and mentors agreed that the transformation of the participants – many of whom were students who entered the program with no previous experience in business – was astounding.

“The first day we invited them to pitch their ideas. Often we couldn’t even understand what their thoughts were about and we couldn’t hear them. Over the following two days, we coached them in how to speak well, how to present their ideas better, how to build a strong message. We helped them to build their prototypes and their pitch decks…And the progress from day one to the final pitches was incredible,” explained Zapletalova.

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CoESL’s managing director Dr. Marcia Brandon said while she was hoping to get more people coming out to participate in the bootcamp, she was satisfied that the initiative attracted “quality, even though not the quantity.”

She said watching the growth was inspiring.

“I was extremely impressed with their performance,” Dr. Brandon said, stressing that it was not only the final pitches that deserved praise but the boot campers’ dedication to the entire process. “They made an effort, they gave up their weekend, and they worked long hours, and we see the results.”

The bootcamp in Barbados was the fifth the CCIC has held throughout the region. Previous bootcamps took place in Jamaica, Trinidad, Antigua and St. Lucia. The next one will take place in Belize from November 11-13, followed by Dominica, November 18-20. Dates are yet to be announced for bootcamps in other CCIC participating countries: The Bahamas, Grenada, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

CCIC’s project manager Carlinton Burrell said the winners of the bootcamps would move into the CCIC’s six-month Accelerator Programme.

“Each of them will receive US$15,000 to help them develop and grow their idea into the next stage, which is the Incubator Programme,” he explained.

The CCIC, established in 2014, is spearheaded by a consortium which includes the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in Trinidad and Tobago and the Jamaica-based Scientific Research Council (SRC). The initiative is one of the core components of the Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) which is funded by the government of Canada and managed by infoDev, an Initiative of the World Bank Group’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Unit.

The Caribbean CIC is one of eight CICs established across the world. The others are Kenya, Ethiopia, India, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana.

The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center welcomes newly appointed Chair, Lisa Harding

By: The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center

The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) is pleased to announce the recent appointment of Ms. Lisa Harding as its new Chair, by the Center’s management committee. She will serve for a one-year period with effect 13th September 2016.

Ms. Harding succeeds Dr. Marcia Brandon, Managing Director of the Caribbean Center for Excellence and Sustainable livelihoods, Barbados. CCIC is extraordinarily fortunate to have these two dynamic, accomplished and committed members of the entrepreneurship community to lead the Center through such critical stages in our development.

Dr. Brandon joined the committee in 2013 and became Chair in 2015 at a time when the Center was transitioning from its infancy into a professional organization. Under her leadership, the Board provided the strategic vision, governance structure, support and encouragement that enabled us to grow and thrive. During Dr. Brandon’s tenure, the Center’s full-time professional staff grew from two to three; the vision of our new modality began to bear fruit in significant ways, and our startup companies are expanding across the region. We have accomplished tremendous strides in the past year and, due in large measure to Dr. Brandon’s leadership, the Center is in a strong position to do even more important work in the coming years.

Thanks to great teamwork between Dr. Brandon and Ms. Harding, the management committee hasn’t missed a step during this leadership transition. As Chair, Ms. Harding will guide the Center as it realizes its objectives while developing its strategic plan for becoming a fully incorporated entity.

Ms. Harding is currently a Private Sector Specialist in the Private Sector Development Unit of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). With a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), along with her diverse portfolio of projects focusing on access to finance, business climate reforms, trade facilitation and business development; Ms. Harding brings valuable expertise that the Center will need as we continue to develop a regional ecosystem for accelerating Caribbean Cleantech startups.

Ms. Harding, who is an avid speaker on issues surrounding entrepreneurship and private sector development, serves as a guest lecturer for UWI’s Student Entrepreneurial Education Development program and the Caribbean Institute of Gender and Development. She is also CDB’s coordinator for the Compete Caribbean program- a USD $40m private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and SME development activities, in 15 Caribbean countries. The program is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Canada.

The CCIC is deeply grateful for the tremendous amount of time, energy, and support that all of our management committee members, past and present, have devoted to advancing our mission to improve the lives of those affected by climate change and to lead this initiative in mitigating its effects through entrepreneurship.

What better way to travel than being a local

Meet the Winners of CGSB Antigua & Barbuda

With entrepreneurship booming across the Caribbean cleantech-focused events such as this is novel to the region, but Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp proves that clean technology startups are providing the fuel for this explosion of creativity.

As part of our island-hop series, we have completely been blown away as we set out to find the next best clean technology startup in Antigua & Barbuda. We were inundated with top quality entries from aquaponics farms, retrofitted electric powered engines and innovative products that are all looking to disrupt and improve the way we address climate mitigation and adaptation.

After a fantastic response from entrepreneurs and startup founders, we would like to congratulate Team Local the winners of Caribbean GreenTech Startup Bootcamp Antigua & Barbuda. Their solution the local app is a one-stop go-to information source for everything and anything cleantech locally in any country.

The reasons Local App took the top prize are comprehensive. Primarily, the app is a great concept that founder, Elijah James has thoroughly thought out and researched and is committed to turning it into a viable business. Before starting to build his product Elijah has gone through the essential first steps – from identifying a clear market opportunity to validating the app’s initial concept with customer research and a wealth of supportive data and information. And of course, we also love that the idea is integrated, promotes linkages with various entities and targets people of all ages from all walks of life.

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Photo: Local App founder Elijah James

Importantly for us, the Local team has a very clear view on what they need help with, when and how. As the winners, their reward inclusive of the grant of US$1000 includes automatic entry into the center’s Accelerator program.

Second place of US$500 went to AquaponicsAnu whose aquaponics solution aim to make organic food cheaper. Third place of US$250 went to team FruitGO whose innovation focused on preventing food wastage using solar energy to dry fruits.

Third place of US$250 went to team FruitGO whose innovation focused on preventing food wastage using solar energy to dry fruits.

These startups are opening up opportunities where before there were only obstacles. We will be following up with Elijah for a closer look at the Local App and why we’ll all soon be using it to find all things cleantech across the Caribbean. Next stop #GreenTechBdos!

See you on October 14th

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1st place winners Team Local App from left : Andrew Watt, Seimone Joseph, and Elijah James
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2nd place winners Team AquaponicsAnu from left:  Dr. Evelyn Weekes, Devin Odlum, and Jason Fleming
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3rd Place winners FruitGo from left: Saran King, Vincent Derrick, and Lionel Walker

How to Maximize the Value of Your Mentors

Having a mentor is one of the most valuable resources to have in your career, and becoming one is can be a hugely rewarding experience. A great startup mentor is like a magician. In the midst of an ordinary conversation, they are able to amaze their mentees with valuable ideas and advice that seem to be pulled out of an empty hat.

In reality, there are a few successful management techniques, structures and models and memorizing them doesn’t guarantee the success for any startup. Mentors possess the skills to guide you, the entrepreneur, in selecting the correct model that best suits your business.

It is hard for any program to consistently bring the quality mentorship resource to the table. Mentors are extremely busy people, they have varying skill sets, and it’s unclear how structured or unstructured the mentorship component in an accelerator needs to be.

One of the most important things we will encourage in our programs after the initial Meet & Greet session is for founders to reach out to mentors directly. We encourage founders to build direct relationships with mentors., which will prove beneficial even after our program has ended

Startup founders: If you want to maximize the value of mentors in a program, it’s entirely up to you to do so.

Believe it or not, this will pretty much be the case with everything you’re going to do as a startup founder. At the end of the day, what you get out of any relationship, be it with investors, co-founders, staff, family, friends, support groups; is up to you.

When you enter into a program, before anything else, think about what your startups needs then go through the list of mentors provided to you with a fine-tooth comb.  Select the mentor that addresses that need, and reach out to them directly. Use the accelerator as the conduit for initial communication to build a personal relationship with your mentor.

Mentors are usually well connected, many of them are investors as well, and they can open doors. That’s the expectation. But if there are no personal relationships between founders and mentors, I don’t see many doors getting opened. People are always careful with their Rolodex and they should be. It’s one of their most precious assets. They’re not going to open it up willy-nilly, just because they’re listed as a mentor for an accelerator. It still comes down to personal relationships and trust.

If you want to maximize the value of mentors inside an accelerator, it’s your job to build that trust.

It’s our job running an accelerator to create opportunities for trust building to occur but it’s your job to maintain it.

As an entrepreneur and founder, you have to remember that you’re competing for attention. That means you need to be extremely strategic and aggressive (within reason) in absorbing as much as you can from the accelerator experience. Don’t sit around waiting for another to tell you what is of value or what values you can acquire from the program; you need to leverage your participation in the program to get what you possibly can.

Here are a few pointers on how to maximize the value from mentors:

1.       Understand their specialties. Mentors all have different skill sets and experience. Do your homework and figure out which mentors are the best ones for you to engage with at specific times or work with the accelerator time to peer you with the mentor that meets your needs. When it’s time to raise money, go to the mentors with that expertise. When it’s time to focus on user acquisition, get closer with the appropriate mentors. You have to build the relationships early, though, but time your use of mentors properly.

2.       Be clear and to the point. Remember mentors are extremely busy individuals, avoid wasting their time and get to the point. Make sure when you connect with mentors that you know why you’re doing and what you’re looking for; Mentors will appreciate that. Asking for “general feedback” is a death trap; Mentors won’t know how to help you, they’ll get frustrated, and you’ll be frustrated as well. 

3.       Engage with them on social media. Mentors are people too many of which are actively working on their own startups. Engaging with them online is a good way of building relationships. Tracking what they’re doing is a smart way of showing that you care.

4.  Take professional development sessions seriously. Most accelerators have some structured components to the program. Some founders may feel like this is a distraction, but that’s the wrong way to look at it. Think of it like a crash course in all the elements of running a startup. That’s an educational component that others aren’t receiving. But also realize that these sessions are an opportunity to build better relationships with mentors. These sessions will help you if you have ready questions with which to engage your mentors. Be engaged and take it all in.

In the end, the experience of mentorship is somewhat magical, but the more the entrepreneurs understand the ‘tricks of the trade’, the better off and more successful they will be. And that is the whole point of mentorship.

 

Until next time,
Cashyaka McDonald
Marketing Officer
Caribbean Climate Innovation Center

 

Applications are now open for CCIC’s LaunchIT GreenTech Accelerator Program until September 9. If you have specific questions about your company and whether you would benefit from our program, please contact us.