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Setting up a business in Trinidad and Tobago is quite straight forward.
The Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago (GORTT) encourages foreign direct investment in almost all sectors, with specific focus on the non-energy targeted sectors.
Trinidad and Tobago's success in energy has fueled its rapid development into one of the most industrialized and cost-effective nations in the Caribbean and Central America.
Trinidad and Tobago is a twin island republic situated below the hurricane belt, at the southern-most end of the Caribbean archipelago.
Edan K. Properties manages many complex projects - from purchase to conceptualization, financing and site development. In its role as facilitator, InvesTT has worked alongside Edan K. and played a significant role over the years in the fast-tracking of processes required to implement multi-faceted development projects.
InvesTT facilitated company registration and access to import duty concessions for equipment, engaged the Ministry of Energy & Energy Industries on the placement and inspection of their LPG tanks as well as facilitated smooth entry at Immigration for foreign engineers needed to install equipment and train local staff.
Located in St. Augustine Trinidad, Virtana Inc. is an outsourcing company that delivers high quality robotics software solutions to international technology companies, utilizing engineering graduates based in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Transforming society in terms of technology is a strategy that InvesTT supports,” stated Christopher Lewis, President of InvesTT at the Hacker Hostel (Trinidad) Demo Day 2018. The event, held on Wednesday 25th July 2018, at the University of The West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine campus, was the grand finale to the first Hacker Hostel Summer Solutions Programme to be hosted in Trinidad and Tobago by Hacker Hostel Limited. The four-week programme was rolled out through the company’s partnership with the University of the West Indies, InvesTT Limited and PitchIT Caribbean and saw mentors, invited to Trinidad from ICT hubs in the USA, team up with participants for four weeks of mentorship in the development of software business solutions.
Hacker Hostel’s co-founders Winston Wilkins and Akua Walters, noted that InvesTT’s Manager Investor Sourcing, Sekou Alleyne, first met with Hacker Hostel at the 2017 Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica. According to Mr. Walters, they were impressed with the support and vigor with which InvesTT facilitated them and they were fascinated with the vision the company had for Trinidad and Tobago.
Dr. Akash Pooransingh, UWI Lecturer in Computer Sciences expressed his gratitude to the Hacker Hostel team for choosing to host the programme in Trinidad, saying, “This was the first time such an event was done in Trinidad and Tobago.” He went on to explain that the programme targeted recent Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Sciences graduates who were ready to hit the job market. The Hacker Hostel initiative defined for these students what they were capable of doing and gave them some real issues to work with. Each team had one month dedicated to solving a single problem. Dr. Pooransingh emphasized the importance of programmes like these for the creation of the tech-ecosystemneeded to drive the ICT industry in Trinidad and Tobago and commended the support that was provided by corporate entities such as InvesTT.
President of InvesTT, Mr. Christopher Lewis shared that in 2017 a US client requested background data on software development skills available in Trinidad and Tobago. In response, InvesTT conducted a survey to source the data.
“What we found was a gap in the knowledge set in terms of what international software developers were looking for and what was available locally. Hacker Hostel’s Summer programme is the type of intervention needed in Trinidad and Tobago to bridge this perceived gap,” said Mr. Christopher Lewis.
The Demo Day allowed the three teams of participants the opportunity to pitch their prototypes to the business audience with the aim of commencing partnerships for their pilot projects. The projects included a mixture of software applications, web platforms and sensory based software tools which sought to provide solutions for real issues such as sourcing local fruits readily, maintaining fitness levels, and detecting security risks.
Along with the well-deserved accolades from the audience, the teams were also grateful for the rigorous feedback received from the audience on ways in which they could refine and strengthen their product offerings.
“There’s nothing like this programme offered at the University.” This was the profound statement made by current second year Computer Sciences major Gabriela Sewdhan when asked about her participation in the Hacker Hostel Summer Solutions Programme. Michael Ali, her fellow teammate, also a Computer Sciences major indicated that the field of solutions development for business was definitely a viable option going forward as a career. Together they formed Kinetic Solutions, one of the three teams coming out of the first ever run of the Programme in Trinidad and Tobago.
The four weeks of intense training took these students from being Software Engineers to being able to apply their expertise to develop solutions for real problems in the Trinidad and Tobago business environment.
“The teams accomplished a lot within the four weeks as they came into the programme with only technical knowledge and were able to develop business solutions within that short space of time,” stated Wilkins.
Within its fourteen months since start-up, Hacker Hostel has trained 46 software engineer business entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. Their ultimate goal is to train software engineers and have them employed at Caribbean Technology Parks.
“This programme is key to getting there,” stated Mr. Wilkins, who urged the corporate sector to .“support programmes like this”, given its direct relevance to solving real-world business problems.