My name is Istra Bell and I am from the tiny Caribbean island, Grenada, also known as the Isle of Spice. I love the beach, love playing around with fashionable items, hanging with friends and I’m a huge fan of Caribbean cuisine. If you haven’t tried Grenada’s main dish, oil down, then make Grenada your next travel destination and try it! Lol. I am also an advocate for entrepreneurship, especially within the Caribbean region and more specifically my island, Grenada. In October 2015, I started a blog, Islepreneur, where I promote entrepreneurship and where I provide a platform for entrepreneurs to market their products and services. Initially, the idea was to give back to the community by providing a service, while at the same time finding a way to make an income. I also decided after graduating from university to work on my own due to the experience I received while working at a local business place. Today I’m seeing how this can serve as a viable business and bring much aid to upcoming businesses.
This is how it started: The BeginningThe idea for Islepreneur came about when I was a student at St. George’s University, where I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. Part of the requirements for completing the program is to do a project, in the final year, which would provide a solution to a real life problem. Truth is, it took me a long time to come up with a concept for my project because I had no intention to do just any project which would have gotten me good grades. I wanted to be innovative to build something worthwhile; a platform (whatever it is) that would be useful and be able to developed into something great after leaving school. It would also be full of worth and can be used to give back to the Grenadian community. My classmates/friends and I felt the same way about what our project would eventually turn out to be. Why Entrepreneurs?Tourism and the service industry have always been areas of interests. In fact, Hospitality Management was what I planned on studying the moment I decided to attend university. The whole idea of meeting and interacting with different cultures excited me and it’s amazing how much you can learn from one person! I opted not to pursue hospitality and decided to do Information Technology. Also, the fact that tourism is a major contributor to the economic growth of our tri-island state – Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique – led me to start thinking about a project which can be useful especially during our tourism season. My thoughts were that we all should play a role to ensure that our tourism industry is not only existing, but continuously developing so that the people (locals) will continue to benefit from it.
After much thought about what I should do, I decided that I will play my role by promoting unique products and services by Grenadian entrepreneurs. The aim is to create an online space to connect local entrepreneurs with visitors. Through this space, visitors would get a preview of what is available or they will easily know where to go when looking for items to carry back home and services to experience while here. Entrepreneurs would now have a platform to showcase their products and services, specifically small business owners who are unable to afford to do extensive marketing. Though it was no easy job to build, I must say that it worked out really well, with God’s help. The LaunchAfter leaving school, a year and a few months later, I finally decided to get back into the ‘project’. This time, the platform will be a website/blog where any/everyone can connect with Grenadian entrepreneurs, view their products and services and read about their stories. This blog will also be a resource for existing and upcoming entrepreneurs to help with building their brand and with entrepreneurship. It was difficult for me to publish the first post and share it for every/anyone to see. Fear of not getting it right is a constant battle for me. I wanted the world to know what I was doing but I was afraid to step out. Could you imagine? Lol. Thankfully, I have gotten a lot better. Since I made the first step, I continued stepping out and looking for new and exciting things and people to post and can never wait for the next time to hit ‘publish’.
Starting a business on your own requires a lot of dedication, research and perseverance. It also requires some sort of funding to get things going. Whether it is running an online business or operating a brick and mortar storefront, you need capital.Unfortunately, for some of us, our story is that we have a great idea, maybe the next best service or product to be released on the market, but we lack capital. The other problem is that we probably don’t even know where to start looking for funds nor an investor. Fear not! I’m here to help. I’ve found a few options that Grenadian and Caribbean entrepreneurs can explore for funding. One of these options might just be what you were looking for. Please take a look here.