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UTC’s Scale Up Program to Focus on Promoting Entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago

UTC Scale Up Program

A year ago, everything changed with the pandemic, and the whole world had to quickly adjust. The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC) brought that agility to a new strategic pillar –  Entrepreneurship, a sector that drives Trinidad and Tobago’s economic growth and provides employment.

Fuelled by a growth mindset to put the right eco-system  for entrepreneurs, the UTC recently launched a new entrepreneurship program, Scale Up Trinidad and Tobago, to help provide business owners in the islands  with the skills and resources necessary to start, grow, and compete in international markets.  The program will be able to provide high‐quality training, advisory services and expanded access to a pool of global experts as well as the know-how and tools necessary to aggressively scale their business. 

The Scale Up TT program came about as a result of UTC’s partnership with US‐based Entrepreneurship Policy Advisors (EPA), whose Scalerator business accelerator program has engaged over 350 participating companies from across the Americas, Canada and, most recently Trinidad and Tobago.

Scalerator is an acclaimed strategic business accelerator program designed to fuel the engine of positive, sustainable economic growth. It is a proven program for entrepreneurial business owners who want to deliver immediate growth into their business and are open to learning new ways to do so. 

Scale Up Trinidad and Tobago’s curriculum teaches business leaders the 3C Scale Up™ model for growth – Customers, Capacity and Cash – to accelerate the growth of companies with sales revenues of roughly $3M and $30M from any industry.   

An intense three‐month training program, which hosted the first cohort on April 13th,  the Scalerator provides practical sales and marketing, organizational development and entrepreneurial finance skills.

Among some of the topics  covered are:

  • How to drive value‐based customer relationships
  • Accelerating growth by aligning strategy and sales
  • Aligning human talent, management team, and growth strategies
  • Generating cash resources to fuel growth

EPA executive director Daniel Isenberg attended the launch, along with Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee‐Scoon; Wendy Bishop, research manager and Scale Up TT coordinator; and members of the UTC faculty and business leadership team.

“When we look around our world today, we will all agree that we are witnessing a world that is changing at tremendous pace. A year ago, everything changed with the pandemic and the whole world had to adjust and do so quickly,” said UTC executive director Nigel Edwards in his address.

UTC is uniquely qualified to be a hub for regional entrepreneurship.  Over the past three years, UTC has worked to develop deeper relationships with corporations and local entrepreneurs as a source of its own future growth.

“When we started that pivot in 2018, one of the first things that we did was that we partnered with other institutions that were similarly motivated [to encourage entrepreneurship].  We partnered with Ernst and Young (EY) and sponsored the Emerging Entrepreneur Award, which was a TT Chamber initiative,” said Edwards.

The challenge is how to bring scale local business, and UTC has been working closely with a diverse array of institutions, including the TT Chamber, UWI, and multi‐laterals. 

Scale Up TT is emphasizing creating a framework for an entrepreneurial ecosystem and complement existing programs by offering highly motivated entrepreneurs an opportunity, to learn practical skills with a small, select group of peers.

The Selection Committee sought out highly motivated entrepreneurial business owners committed to accelerating their company’s growth.  The companies in Scale Up TT come from a 

wide range of growth sectors, including technology, engineering, logistics and food processing.

At the launch event, Minister Gopee‐Scoon recognized UTC’s commitment to entrepreneurship and said: “Scale Up TT could not come at a more opportune time. This initiative serves to scale up businesses by encouraging entrepreneurs to be more ambitious with their growth targets, and to guide them through the steps necessary to turn that desire for growth into reality by focusing on the three Cs — customers, capacity and cash.”

“There is no question that firms of varying sizes have been hit hard by the COVID‐19 pandemic. Businesses have had to contend with reduced demand, disrupted supply chains and shrinking access to finance in some instances,” she said.

Government and private enterprise have recently come to recognize that although creating new businesses is important, it is equally important to help existing companies grow, which is why UTC’s program is so vital to the economic success of the region.

Minister Gopee‐Scoon said: “This growth helps more than just the business, it also spreads prosperity deep into the community. If more and more local companies grow more rapidly, our economy will also expand.”

According to 2011 data provided by the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TTCIC) and the Central Statistical Office (CSO), there are approximately 20,000 to 25,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Trinidad and Tobago, representing roughly 85 percent of all registered businesses.  

SMEs play a tremendous role in the local economy – from providing goods and services, expanding employment and income generation to alleviate poverty, and spurring additional job creation.

Minister Gopee‐Scoon applauded the UTC for investing in entrepreneurs and businesses, which is a step in the right direction. “if TT is to evolve from being the industrial lead in the region, to the ideas and entrepreneurial capital of the region.” 

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