As entrepreneurs swim in a sea of uncertainty, their thirst for knowledge keeps widening with some even grasping at straws to ensure that they capture the best catch! With so many so-called social media pundits spewing information by the ton loads, wisdom must step in to help in deciding what is credible and what is not.

Let’s take you on a journey that can assist in streamlining what comes to you and what should be accepted or rejected. You must first verify the source and research its credibility; then proceed to filter the information which requires setting up processes that can aid in categorizing and responding to data; do a brain dump to get the unnecessary stuff out of your head whilst jotting down important notes.

Whilst you need to remain informed, experts warn that individuals must pay close attention to elevated feelings of anxiety. “Consuming an overwhelming amount of information and possibly difficult news can negatively impact one’s mental health,” says Canadian psychiatrist, Dr Carolyn Boulos. But how can you conquer all of this?

Start by limiting the amount of time spent, reading or listening to new information about the pandemic; be mindful of misinformation coming from unreliable sources; choose trusted sources to obtain information updates as well as new business techniques that can salvage and/or reconfigure your business; identify at least three (3) credible sources that can share both psychological and business-related information.

Develop strategies to disconnect from fake news and social media distractions – some of these include switching off notifications on your phone; learning a non-digital hobby; engage in a fun activity daily like reading, listening to music or exercising; don’t listen and/or read the news just before bedtime as that may prevent you from getting a good night’s rest; establish a daily routine for self-care, and most importantly, ensure that your networks are heavily infused with the potential to uplift you and your business!

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The lens of the corporate community became stronger amidst the Covid-19 pandemic as the significance of the entrepreneurial community has begun to bear greater fruit, with world leaders seeking to develop strategies infused with the broadest levels of resilience and risk mitigation.

It’s no doubt that the cries of MSMEs are becoming louder as Covid-19 is yet to fully make its departure from mother earth; in the meantime entrepreneurs are attempting to regroup, restore or re-model what was once known to them as a business. All is not lost as regional and international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, European Union and the Caribbean Development Bank have been responding to those cries through various types of support.

Along the European continent, the International Trade Centre has developed a fifteen-point action plan for MSMEs, business support organizations and governments; the plan supports internationally-minded MSMEs through this crisis and allows them to be at the forefront of generating resilience, inclusiveness, sustainability and growth in the future. As a leader in youth entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago, Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT) is extremely thankful to the corporate community for sharing in its vision to support both start-ups and existing entrepreneurs within the 18-35 catchment at multiple levels. Standing at YBTT’s side to ensure that its goals are achieved successfully are Shell Trinidad  & Tobago Limited, Republic Bank, Caribbean Development Bank, First Caribbean International Bank, TSTT B-Mobile, Unit Trust Corporation, Massy Foundation and Bankers’ Association of Trinidad and Tobago. With continued support from these stakeholders, YBTT has been able to fulfil the demands of its publics….and in particular young entrepreneurs who need sustainable shoulders to lean on at this time.  Re-building of economies must begin with a well-structured and viable pillar which is entrepreneurship.


With the new normal facing us head on, businesses must now become dependent on a sustainable digital strategy aimed at amplifying their brand optimally; in fact, this will be the do or die factor that determines our ability to navigate the rough seas ahead, as this unprecedented era has eliminated all channels related to “in-person” events. Such drastic change requires entrepreneurs to dig deeper in their creative pockets and pull out all stops to ensure business sustainability and resilience. Daniel Sun, VP Analyst at global research and advisory firm Gartner argued “companies need to leverage a systematic approach to strengthen the resilience of their current business models to ensure on-going operation during Covid-19.”

According to Google Marketing, five (5) principles are set to guide digital campaigns at this time. The first is context which is critical in helping businesses become more empathetic to the needs of their customers and employees; the second is constant re-assessment of campaigns, creative collaterals as well as marketing guidelines necessary to remain relevant. Thirdly, creative considerations must be reviewed as businesses need to carefully evaluate their messaging including tone, visual imagery, copy, keyboards and media placement.

The fourth principle calls for change in priorities amidst uncertainties; decisions must be made to evaluate marketing budgets and shift priorities towards the things that customers need during this time of crisis. The last principle urges businesses to come together and help each other; businesses must think of creative ways to assist their customers and other stakeholders; re-visit your brand’s digital assets and think of possibilities on how your brand can support advocacy and even increase dissemination of information.


Being exposed to the field of child care for more than twenty (20) years) coupled with her love for children led Renee Hendrickson to that desired space along the entrepreneurial realm. She  explained  “I grew up with my grandmother who was a teacher for many years, and I felt it important to continue her legacy with the opening of my own school.”

It all happened in July 2016 with an important intervention by YBTT. “YBTT assisted and supported me to grow my business financially; three days prior to the opening of my school, YBTT added the finishing layer in making it happen.”

As the school continues to evolve, Renee took the leap to employ two (2) teachers and she also took on the role of teacher in addition to maintaining the position of Founder/Administrator. With the unexpected visit by Covid-19 challenges immediately stepped in. According to Renee  my biggest challenges were the laying off my teachers and the complete closure of the school.”

With the urgent change in the environment, Renee quickly decided to reconfigure her business model so as to ensure that her students are able to enjoy the same level of quality service. “Though I was met with some resistance by some parents to invest in the new model,  I proceeded to develop virtual classrooms and began offering classes to pre-schoolers.” With a current enrollment of seven (7) students and a dire need for this new model, Renee has extended her offer to the national community; classes are offered three (3) days per week ..two (2) hours daily. The virtual curriculum is further complemented by five (5) days of labeled work which is a combination of virtual and offline sessions. Renee boasts of being the first pre-school in Trinidad and Tobago to offer virtual classes which began on March 23rd, 2020.

Given the evolution in the delivery of education, Renee plans to maintain the virtual learning concept for the third term and beyond. “I would continue to monitor and evaluate the environment and reconfigure accordingly – something she describes as trouble shooting.” Looking at the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic,  Renee strongly suggest the development of a sustainable contingency plan that has some level of financial reserves. She ended “sometimes in life we do not foresee situations and as such are usually unprepared when they do come; continue to have faith in God as with him all things are possible.”


With 14 years under his belt in the Oil and Gas industry coupled with his expertise as a Transformational Life Coach, Reggie Ramlochan seems to have unearthed his passion! “From the time I started working, co-workers would often approach me for advice on both personal and work-related issues” said Reggie. He recounted his life experience as one that propelled him to become a mentor to others. The mentorship journey between Reggie and his mentees – Christine Roberts and Dareem Jeffrey is even on both sides as he is proud of their personal strides and business growth and by the same token, they both boast of the invaluable advice and support that they’ve been privileged to receive.  As he puts it “whilst they both possess different characteristics, they understand the journey and vision they’re seeking to accomplish.”

Reggie believes that a Mentor should be caring and be willing to help their mentees to realize their dreams and aspirations without taking control; support  from the mentor should not go beyond positioning and helping in their mentees’ accomplishment as going further, would appear to be encroaching on their thought processes and personal space.

In describing the Sky’s The Limit platform, Reggie stated “the platform provides a great level of freedom for mentors to connect with mentees at the broadest level; it’s beneficial to all users given its broad capacity for inter-connectivity.” With some thoughts circling in his head to enhance STL I’d like to see a circular motion on the platform where mentors can do leadership training and create a rubric that mentors can transfer to mentees which can evolve in an awesome experience for all parties.”

Reggie commends YBTT on the timely introduction of the Group Mentorship initiative which he describes as a safe space for mentees to share their challenges and seek out the relevant assistance from mentors.  He views commitment by all mentors and mentees as a critical success factor of this initiative.

Reggie advises young entrepreneurs to take a page from the stoic philosophy – understand things from where they are and not make them worst; use this time of the Covid-19 crisis to plan ahead and identify new avenues.”

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“My love and passion for children led me into a space where I’m able to put that passion into action through nurturing children with special needs” said Christine Roberts, Founder and Owner of Chrisy’s Care located in Barbados. Her journey started by caring for a close family friend who had some challenges .

“I also pursued a program in entrepreneurship which focused on knowing your market and niche and that’s when my passion flourished as I knew my niche is caring for children with special needs.”

Established eight (8) years ago, Chrisy’s Care offers an integrated suite of services aimed at ensuring that students become well-rounded to face the world; activities such as social etiquette and external hikes are just a taste of the uniqueness that embellishes the business. Christine believes that young entrepreneurs are always thirsty for knowledge and new business insights such as regulatory guidelines, marketing and finance and that opens the gateway to seek mentorship.

Christine credits a lot of her current success to her mentor Reggie Ramlochan who looks at her business with a holistic eye. As she puts it Reggie uses the Life Wheel concept which looks at different aspects of the business and recommends the appropriate balance taking into consideration strengths and weaknesses.”  Reggie also introduced Christine to the mindfulness philosophy.

Sharing her thoughts on the Sky’s The Limit platform “it was foolproof as I was able to understand and navigate with ease; it also helped in generating a business plan that also assisted with proper direction of my business; it’s also goal-oriented.”  She also lauded YBTT on the Group Mentorship initiative which she described as very motivational as it provides an opportunity to exchange learnings. “It helps mentees to build their confidence and grow as an entrepreneur.”

Christine describes her mentorship experience with a Trinidadian mentor as a major cross-cultural opportunity which allows her to look at life and business from a regional perspective.


From her early life, Pearl Yatali Gonzales always had a vested interest in helping youths make a valuable contribution to society. “In 2009, I got an opportunity to be part of the YBTT network which enabled me to fulfill that interest.”  Based on her daily operations, it is clear that helping others become their best rests in her DNA!  She strongly believes that the concept of critical thinking should be at the forefront of any mentorship relationship. According to Pearl “our education system should be re-configured to allow youths to engage in critical thinking so that they can realize their fullest potential.”

Pearl admits “since becoming a Mentor, I’ve met some very creative and innovative young entrepreneurs who do possess all the critical thinking skills but have been able to scale up their mindsets and ultimately fulfill their ambitions.”  The mentorship program is fuelled by YBTT’s mission and vision – empowering young entrepreneurs to build profitable and sustainable businesses and taking entrepreneurship to the next level. Through the mentoring process, Pearl is able to continuously develop the minds of her mentees and also help them to practically see the strengths and weaknesses of their businesses.

As she puts it “being a sounding board for your mentees is the most important role of mentors which helps in sharing a world view of  the ecosystem.”  Another element that is dear to Pearl is emotional intelligence development  which is necessary in helping mentees develop their emotional skills; she does not believe that one mentor is adequate given the mentees’ need for personal development and social skills. Pearl alluded to the fact that mentoring amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond is crucial and requires different strategies. “Every mentee must bring their own uniqueness and awesomeness to the table and mentorship must now include mental health care, visioning, critical thinking and emotional intelligence.”


A Journey into the Contactless World!

Before the untimely visit of Covid-19, many parts of the world had already begun transitioning a number of financial products and services online vastly minimizing the need for in-person contact, and at the same time, offering a renewed customer experience. A February 2020 report from Juniper Research, forecasted global contactless transaction values, would triple from $2 trillion in 2020 to $6 trillion by 2024.

In the United States alone, transaction values would grow from $178 billion in 2020 to $1.5 trillion in 2024. Current research is also showing consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with traditional methods of in-person financial transactions including cash and/or swiping their cards at point-of-sale. In fact, customers are seeking out contactless wallets as safer options; in the US, the pandemic has influenced volume growth, at essential businesses like pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores.

According to John Patton, CO-OP Senior Payments Adviser “I think almost all point-of-sale  terminals would have wave/tap functionality due to concerns around infection, and at some point, I expect payment networks to apply a discount on contactless and digital payment transactions as they have, over the last three years to get merchants to install Europay, MasterCard and Visa credit card terminals.”

Young Entrepreneurs Lap Up the Benefits!

Because of contactless popularity, young entrepreneurs across the globe have already sprung onto the virtual train to ensure that their customers are afforded a unique and safe experience; the entrepreneurial community have been boasting of increased productivity, added protection and greater loyalty when operating in a contactless space.

Quotes from Influencers

“Young entrepreneurs should use this time to research ideas in whatever areas of interest and also reach out to experts in the field for increased knowledge and support.”

~ Vishnu Charran, President, Chaguanas Chamber of Industry & Commerce

“Young entrepreneurs need to know what they’re good at, work towards developing further and be willing to take the required risks.”

~ Dr. Jamille Broome, UWI Lecturer & Employment & Labour Law Consultant

“The importance of your circle cannot be under-estimated.”

~ Jerome Chambers, President of the Association of Compliance Professionals of Trinidad & Tobago

“Creation begins with destruction; as some things fall apart there is room for new ideas and fresh growth…room for youthful innovation! We are moving into a different world…new problems need new solutions. New challenges invite us to develop innovative approaches. That’s where I come in!”

~ L. Anthony Watkins, CEO/Principal Consultant, Odyssey CONSULTinc Organizational Development Consultant

“Get prepared! Big opportunities lie ahead!”

~ Dr. Ronald Ramkissoon, Senior Economist, Chairman, Trinidad & Tobago Fair Trading Commission.

“Let’s think about moving forward – not rushing back to anything that’s in the past, but rather visioning the future that we want to make possible, and letting each step we take in the present bee a seed we plant with love, hope and trust.”

~ Dale Laughlin, YBTT Chair and Life Coach.

“Because young entrepreneurs are well endowed on the use of technology as well as a unique ability to navigate the national ecosystem, the COVID-19 crisis presents an excellent opportunity to re=position entrepreneurship and re-configure business models that are more sensitive to the environment such as farming and animal husbandry which are in greater demand globally.”

~ Dr. Indera Sagewan, Consultant in Competitiveness & Innovation, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies.

“While the current times are tough for many of us, let’s make a commitment to help each other more as we move forward. Solidarity is key for us to leverage this crisis to become an opportunity for renewal, digital innovation and to build resilience as a nation! As it is said – This too shall pass! We are in this together and will emerge together, even stronger!”

~ Navin Dookeran, Cheif Executive Officer Export-Import Bank of Trinidad & Tobago (EXIM Bank)

“Some men see things as they are and ask why – but I dream things that never were and ask why not.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

“I am pleading with the nation to adhere to the “stay-at-home” orders to quickly flatten the curve; as we pray at this time, our heart are with the non-essential business owners, small entrepreneurs and employees who are negatively impacted but these measures are in the interest of saving lvies. Let’s work together as a united nation to combat this invisible enemy.”

~ Rajiv Diptee, President of the Supermarket Association of Trinidad & Tobago

“During World War I and II, the world was in a similar situation, touch times, frustration and isolation and COVID-19 would soon pass. I am appealing to young entrepreneurs who may be mentally perturbed or financially challenged at this time to reach out to the various organizations or NGO’s offering support including the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services; make good use of your time by researching online for the particular type of support needed.”

~ Dr Varma Deyalsingh, Independent Senator and President of The Association of Psychiatrists of Trinidad & Tobago


Lucky Pinder, Co-founder, Wearfit Community

Lucky Pinder boasts of her association with a business that offers a holistic suite of wellness services relating to fitness and nutrition. According to Lucky “WearFit is a support group that focuses on utilizing exercise, healthy eating, physical activity and education to improve personal health.”

Established in December 2017 with two (2) locations in Mayaro and Arima, Wearfit is destined to improve health, increase self-confidence and reduce anxiety, depression and stress. “I saw the need for persons especially women to get the support to work-out in an enjoyable way and at the same time maintain a positive mindset” said Lucky.

Despite the success that the business was enjoying, Lucky felt the need to seek out additional support, and YBTT’s Mentorship Program answered her call. As she puts it “I needed a safe forum where I am able to share and exchange and overcome my challenges in the process.” She also showered praises  on her Mentor, Emile Ackbarali who helped her put things into a better perspective particularly goal-setting. “I also learnt techniques in marketing and was able to understand the difference between marketing and advertising in relation to my business.”

Lucky lauds YBTT’s recently introduced Group Mentorship initiative as timely; she admits that one of the greatest benefits is being able to learn by listening to other entrepreneurs and feed off of the positive energies that circulate within the space. For her, the initiative offers much more communication and insights than the traditional one-and-one relationship.

Lucky advises all young entrepreneurs to seek mentorship as it enhances personal growth and decreases your chances of repeating mistakes; it is an awesome opportunity to obtain learnings and knowledge from someone with more experience.