~Secondary School Students can Win up to ANG 10 000 and an entrepreneurial exchange at #NYP22~
PHILIPSBURG:--- Student entrepreneurs in secondary schools can now apply to participate in the first-ever National Youth Pitch Competition. Students must work in teams of no more than four (4) students of the same school. Applications close on September 30. Thereafter a committee will score the applications and the five (5) highest scoring teams will move on to a six (6) week accelerator with experts who will coach them and help prepare them for the finals on November 20, 2022. The in-person and online audiences will get to choose their favorite team, which will win ANG 2500. The overall winning team will win a grand prize of ANG 10 000 and an entrepreneurial exchange abroad.
The National Youth Pitch Competition is organized by the Ministry of Finance and Islandpreneur and was designed to increase financial literacy among the youth, hone their entrepreneurial skills, and cultivate innovative thinking while creating a platform for them to share solutions. All secondary schools have been invited to participate in the National Youth Pitch Competition. On August 31, 2022, the Ministry of Finance and Islandpreneur, hosted an information session for the school management and teachers of secondary schools to provide additional information and gain feedback. The overall response of the schools has been positive.
The Minister of Finance, Hon. Ardwell Irion gave his opening remarks to the school representatives at the information session. The Minister of Finance has supported and remains a key player in economic recovery programs such as the Enterprise Support Program, which provides much-needed funding to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME’s). The Ministry has also supported initiatives and pitches by Qredits like the “Be Your Own Boss” and Small Business Academy. Having been active in pitches over the past few years, Minister Irion said in his opening remarks, “I truly believe that financial literacy is key to a sustainable future for St. Maarten. Instilling this and key entrepreneurial skills in the youth is critical to achieving this goal. Partnering with Islandpreneur allows us to do so in a dynamic and innovative way”.
Dr. Ife Badejo, a founder of Islandpreneur and project manager of the National Youth Pitch Competition, has organized pitch competitions in the past. In 2019, Ife coordinated the Caribbean Innovation Challenge of Mercy Corps and Bacardi Limited, which provided fifteen (15) entrepreneurs with prizes totaling USD 37 000 in cash for St. Maarten. In 2020, as the Global Entrepreneurship Week host for St. Maarten, Ife, and the team hosted Islandfounded, a virtual pitch competition for entrepreneurs on St. Maarten and Curacao in partnership with the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten. Ife has also served as a judge for a global pitch competition, Present Your Start-up Pitch Competition, and competitions have done at the Small Business Academy.
To ensure that the finalists have an equitable opportunity to showcase their ideas and provide a quality pitch, the organizers introduce a six (6) week accelerator program. From October 6 to November 10 (Thursdays from 6-8 pm), the top 5 finalists will be coached by experts in the preparation for the finals. Topics such as finance, lean model canvas, customer conversations, how to go to market, how to progress, and how to pitch will be covered by some of the island’s leading minds. Successfully completing the accelerator and adhering to the attendance policy is a prerequisite to pitching at the finals.
The pitch finals will take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 20, 2022. This event will also be streamed online. In a ‘Shark Tank’ styled setting, each team has two (2) minutes to pitch and jury panelists have ten (10) minutes for questions. Judges will score based on criteria such as creativity, viability, scalability, leadership, and presentation. The team with the highest score wins ANG 10 000 and an entrepreneurial exchange abroad. The audience, both in-person and streaming audience, will get to vote for their favorite. The team that is deemed the “Crowd Favorite” wins ANG 2500.
Organizers are hopeful that this competition will provide the youth with an opportunity to showcase their business ideas and develop their skills. In the long term, this competition is poised to support sustainable economic growth through the development of financial literacy, entrepreneurial skills, and innovative solutions.
Islandpreneur equips island-based entrepreneurs and creators to embrace digital tools, accelerate growth, and profitably scale their businesses. It does so through media and a variety of entrepreneurship development programs. Official partners include the Ministry of Finance and TelEm N.V. the official telecommunications provider.