The future of cleantech development and industry in Barbados is here! Meet the innovative incubatees of Bloom, the Barbados Cleantech Cluster. Discover their businesses, projects, personal stories and unique journeys in this interview series.*
Q: What’s your name and what’s your project?
A: My name is Deandra Crawford and my Business is called ‘The Green Collective 246’. The Green Collective is focused on agar and alcohol production.
Q: Tell us one thing you’re proud of since the inception of your business.
A: I am extremely proud of my personal growth since the inception of this project. Additionally, I have motivated others close around me to follow their dreams and this has truly been rewarding for me.
Q: Why did you choose to sign up for Bloom?
A: I had been developing my business idea for a few months when I saw the call. I immediately knew my project would be ideal and so I signed up. I was in great need of technical support, a working space and some guidance to take my project to the next level.
Q: Is there anything you learned or gained so far from participating in Bloom that helped you to keep moving forward? How was that knowledge or experience helpful?
A: Patience – I have learned the importance of this attribute as it relates to development and the importance of networking. The support provided by Bloom has influenced me to refine my thinking, taught me the value of patience with regards to collecting data, testing theories and formulas and the overall compilation of my project. The exposure to other companies at different stages in their businesses has been very helpful as vital knowledge was shared and potential business partnerships were realised.
Q: What has been your most memorable experience in your cleantech journey?
A: Realising that my ideas are becoming a reality has been very inspirational for me. The support from my family has been so encouraging that, even when I come upon problems, I feel un-phased. This journey has been a little tougher for me, as I was further behind than other members of the cluster, at the beginning of the programme but this has only forced me to reach deep and deliver. The journey has forced me to overcome a plaguing mind-set challenge of late that was restricting me from realising my full potential on all fronts. Now, I feel so confident and relaxed as the programme has allowed me to qualify for much needed funding, identify my first customers and discover future partnerships.
Q: What are the top challenges you have faced? How are you dealing with these and what do you think could be helpful?
A: One of the major challenges I face is funding for testing and prototyping. It would be very helpful at my stage of development and would definitely expedite things. Apart from this, gathering data has been a bit of a challenge. In addition, established businesses were often hesitant or unwilling to provide much needed information. Time management also has been a bit of a challenge for me as I am employed full time elsewhere. I have learned to set realistic goals and break down the workload. This has helped a lot.
Q: Where are you now on your journey to success? How have you grown?
A: I have just wrapped up my feasibility study and I am currently in the business planning stage. I have one final pilot project still in development, which is about to move into the testing stage (this was awaiting finalisation of sponsorship for the equipment needed to complete the test). My business idea has evolved and matured since its inception and I am confident that it will be successful. This would not have been possible if the Cleantech programme was not based on using real, proven and tested data as the basis for development!
Q: What keeps you going?
A: My son and my family – I have an opportunity to do something big, realise my dreams and, at the same time, create opportunities for others. This gives me my drive. I must succeed, to secure his future and build the enterprise I dream of.
Q: What does success look like for you?
A: Success is seeing my business come to fruition – this looks like the Barbadian public using my products, the Island positively benefitting from my impact both environmentally and socially, and finally, creating something that lasts and expands.
Q: What advice would you give to other aspiring cleantech innovators?
A: Believe in yourself and seek assistance when possible. There are so many resources out there that are untapped and you must reach out. No idea is a bad idea until it is tried, it is vital to take this approach as you commence your journey.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I am grateful for and would like to say thank you to the facilitators of this programme, our assistants, staff and all of the businesses owners taking part.