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Tertiary educators told increase online learning

Business - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 23:14

Professor of Business Administration at the College of Business, University of Illinois, Dr Hayden Noel has urged tertiary education institutions in T&T to incorporate online learning in the professional programmes they offer to students. He said trends show young people steer more toward online portals to get information.

“If you ask someone between 16 and 20 when last have they read anything of interest and it was on paper, most of them are consuming their education online, meaning they are learning online,” he said in the keynote address at the Association of Caribbean Higher Education Administration Conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain.

Noel gave the example of the University of Illinois which had to change two MBA programmes, so that half is taught online to attract revenue.

He said teaching methods have also changed and tertiary institutions should move away from testing academic ability and instead test competence through course work.

“To me, testing is a waste of time. Teach people how to perform, teach people the skills they need and empower them to do it. We need competencies,” Noel said.

He also noted that universities are creating professionals but have nowhere to place them and wondered whether they had done due diligence through market research.

It is clear, he said, that tertiary education must be accessible to all, so online education is necessary.

Noel said admission to a university must involve the applicant telling the story of who they are, not only about academic qualifications, as this allows the university to determine whether that applicant is committed enough. He urged leaders of universities to think of creative ways of being inclusive and to look for examples or strategies to adopt.

Categories: News

IDB Invest loan support for low income citizens

Business - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 23:13

IDB Invest, the private sector institution of the IDB Group, has disbursed financing of up to US$15 million to Unicomer Trinidad, part of the Unicomer Group. This is a medium-term, local currency loan. The funds are intended to finance the client portfolio of Unicomer Trinidad, with a particular focus on reaching low-income citizens.

The loan will allow IDB Invest to support Unicomer Trinidad in strengthening its offer of access to durable goods and financial services, through access to credit, for clients of underserved populations in the country.

The participation of IDB Invest also promotes the increase of loans to microentrepreneurs and women.

The disbursement of this transaction coincided with a recent visit to T&T by IDB Invest CEO James P. Scriven. During Scriven’s visit, meetings were held with leaders of the public and private sectors of T&T, including Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, as well as representatives of the T&T Chamber and the Trinidad Hotels, Restaurants & Tourism Association.

Robinson-Regis welcomed IDB Invest’s new lending initiative by stating: “IDB Invest’s presence in Trinidad and Tobago signals the confidence of the IDB and its member states in the T&T economy and that this new lending framework supports Government’s development thrust in the financial, non-energy and infrastructure sectors as well as small and medium enterprises lending.”

Scriven gave his commitment to work closely with T&T and other countries in the Caribbean as part of the IDB Invest strategy.

“IDB Invest is investing our time and energy to finance more sectors, offer more financial products and get closer to our clients in-country. My recent trip to Port- of-Spain highlighted the growth and development potential that emerges when IDB Invest and local business collaborate.”

Categories: News

Body found on beach

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:57

A flock of corbeaux feasting on a decomposing human body near the shore at Moruga led beach-goers to the ghastly find yesterday.

Police said around 8 am, the remains were found on a beach off at La Retraite Trace at Lanse Mitan, Moruga.

The corpse was lying partially on some rocks and on the sand. It was viewed by the District Medical Officer who ordered it removed to the Forensic Science Centre.

Police said the body could not be identified because of the advanced state of decomposition.

Moruga police are continuing investigations.

Categories: News

Children Authority to set up Tobago base

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:56

The Children’s Authority says it is deeply concerned about the level of under-reporting of cases of child abuse in Tobago.

Chairman of the Children’s Authority Hanif Benjamin was speaking on Saturday night after he delivered the feature address at the Rapid Fire Kidz Foundation sixth annual Gala Dinner at the Achievors Banquet Hall, Adesh Drive, San Fernando.

Benjamin said the authority, which was established on May 18, 2015, is expected to set up a Child Support Centre and an Assessment Centre at Signal Hil, Tobago by September.

Benjamin said in the last two years there were 260 reports of cases of abuse from Tobago.

“We want to be able, through our public education, to go into the communities in Tobago on a permanent basis so we could encourage people to report issues of child abuse and understand what is child abuse and what solutions we might be able to provide the communities.”

Benjamin said the Children’s Authority operations in Tobago would be complemented with the assistance of the Tobago House of Assembly.

He said the Authority is in the final stage of signing an MOU guide on how it will operate and shares resources and skill sets across the board.

In his address, Benjamin said the authority has received 60,000 calls from the public on cases of abuse in T&T.

He said the Authority is investigating 15,000 reports and remarked that 67 per cent of the reports are linked to instances of sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

“Most times the perpetrators are people who are charged with the responsibility to care and protect them,” he said.

Categories: News

Nidco denies claims that boat stalled

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:54

The Government yesterday shot down claims by the Opposition the Galleons Passage had broken down in the final leg of its journey to T&T.

Nidco chairman Herbert George speaking at a news conference in El Socorro, yesterday, claimed that people were spreading misinformation on the vessel before it arrived to begin work in the inter-island ferry service.

“It is not correct and it just geared at putting fear in the eventual users of the vessel and we want to nip that at the bud,” George said.

He claimed that the vessel had to slow down after experiencing strong currents, but was still scheduled to arrive in Trinidad by 2 pm, this afternoon.

George also sought to debunk alleged issues with the vessel, raised in a preliminary report from a company retained by Nidco.

“Nobody is about to imperil the lives of our citizens by placing them on a board with the adequate safety provisions. That again is just scare tactics to poison the minds of the users of the facility,” George said.

He explained that the report by Tsunami Marine was preliminary and was contingent on information that was not available to the inspector at the time and has since been provided.

Director of Maritime Service Ronald Alfred also advised citizens to not over analyse the technical report.

He also noted that the boat would have to be thoroughly inspected by his department before it is given clearance to carry the T&T flag and to transport passengers.

Categories: News

Ferry finally here, in service by next week

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:53

The Galleons Passage is finally in Trinidad and Tobago waters but it will be at least another week yet before the vessel, first announced to the country seven months ago, makes its first trip on the seabridge.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan told Guardian Media that the vessel will have to go through all the necessary customs and other clearances when it docks at the Port of Port-of-Spain.

Port Authority chairman Lyle Alexander told Guardian Media the Port was “still working” on the dredging for the Galleons Passage.

“The dredging is ongoing,” he said and the contractor, Polaris, is on site. It was the same contractor which did the ancillary work to install the piles to accommodate the vessel.

Alexander said it would be “difficult,” to put a date on when the dredging would be completed. “We should have started taking stuff out today, working continuously I would really have to say given weather conditions and everything else, we have to be realistic, I will have to say as soon as possible.”

The Port chairman did not anticipate any problems for the berthing of the Galleons Passage as a result of the work being done.

“It just it won’t be able to berth at its final berth until the dredging is complete until it is safe to do so,” he said.

Alexander said: “What we looking for is depth under the keel, where we are at right now based on the measurements that we have, we have to do a little clearing to enable the vessel to come all the way up to the quayside, so until that is done because, of course, it can’t be there while we are dredging. Until that time it will be down at the Cruise Ship Complex, so it really would not be a problem.”

Alexander could shed no light on whether the Galleons Passage will undergo the retrofitting works which were not done in Cuba before it begins service on the seabridge.

Neither could he say whether the crew for the vessel had been sourced, referring those questions to the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco).

Before the Galleons Passage can take up duties on the seabridge it as to be classed appropriately. That classification, Guardian Media was told, will be done by Lloyd’s Register, which is the class society for the vessel. Finance Minister Colm Imbert stated the vessel had received a Category 1 status from Lloyd’s Register, which is the highest international rating, via his Twitter account.

He also dismissed claims by UNC actvist Devant Maharaj that the vessel had stalled near Venezuela saying that the estimate time or arrival was 2 pm today.

Alexander said he is “looking forward with great anticipation to the Galleons Passage going online,” he said, “it will certainly be of benefit to the people who travel, every seat we can get on that line is welcome at this time,” he said.

The acquisition of the Galleons Passage by the Government was first announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in an address to the nation in early January. The vessel was originally due to arrive in the country at the end of April but experienced a number of delays and setbacks from the get-go. The departure from China in February was delayed because of Chinese New Year celebrations and along the route, it has faced a number of challenges including bad weather.

When it got to Cuba where the Government and the seller Sea Transport Limited agreed that retrofitting work would have been done, it was then announced that the necessary parts required for the retrofitting faced challenges because of an embargo against Cuba which was still in existence.

Categories: News

Broken excavator blocks watercourse

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:52

Penal residents are calling for the urgent removal of a broken amphibious excavator left in the river near the Tulsa picnic site for over a month now.

They said the excavator is partly blocking of the watercourse called the Blackwater Channel and can contribute to flooding in the already flood-prone area.

The excavator belongs to Kallco contractors which had been awarded a contract by the Ministry of Works Drainage Division to dredge and clear the river.

An official from Kallco, who asked not to be named, said they were able to complete the contract which entailed dredging the river before the machine broke down. He said when they were removing the excavator, it was damaged, and they were unable to move it.

“The project was done between May and June during the dry season when it did not have much water in the river. That machine needs water to work and because there was insufficient water the constant moving up and down caused the track to burst.”

He said they could not source the part locally so they ordered it from abroad.

He said he has been trying to remove the machine and hope to extricate it in the next couple of days. He denied that the government was renting the equipment from them.

An official from the drainage division confirmed that Kallco completed the contract. The official said they have since written to Kallco requesting that the equipment be removed from the river. Chairman of the Penal/Debe Regional Corporation Allen Sammy said he was not aware that the equipment was blocking the river.

Categories: News

Cabinet committee meets today on private school fees

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:50

The Private Schools Association says it stands ready to meet with Education Minister Anthony Garcia and his team to hear what proposal is on the table on the issue of the fee increase which they have requested for students assigned by the government to private schools.

The school year ended last Friday with a virtual stand-off between the Education Ministry and the principals of the private schools, with many of the seven schools not yet in receipt of payments owed to them by the Ministry of Education for the term just ended.

The bone of contention is the fee increase requested by the private schools. They are currently paid $1,200 per child per term and say the real cost per child per term is $5,700. While Garcia admitted that the request for an increase after 13 years is a “fair one,” he said the quantum would have to be decided by the Cabinet.

Last Thursday, Garcia took a note to Cabinet for a proposed increase, but Cabinet referred the matter to the Finance and General Purpose Committee chaired by Finance Minister Colm Imbert. That Committee meets today.

Garcia said the decision of the FNGP will be taken to Cabinet at their meeting this week.

In the intervening period between Monday’s meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee of the Cabinet and Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Garcia said a meeting will be scheduled with the T&T Association of Private Schools.

Officials of the Association told Guardian Media they are waiting for the invitation from the Minister because they would like to hear what is being offered to them.

The schools refused to accept students who were successful in this year’s SEA Examinations because of the impasse with the Ministry over the issue of school fees.

School officials told Guardian Media that the religious bodies which run the schools have been borrowing money over the years to meet the shortfall in what was paid by the government and had virtually been “subsidising the government’s students education.”

Head of the Inter-Religious Organisation Canon Knolly Clarke told Guardian Media last week that the Minister needed to speak with the principals. He said even Government-assisted schools found themselves in a bind and had to raise funds to ensure their schools’ upkeep.

Roman Catholic, Anglican and Seventh Day Adventist private schools are all affected by the issue.

Categories: News

13,444 electors eligible to vote today

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:48

The largest number of electors registered to vote in today’s by-election is at the Don Miguel Hindu Primary School.

Confirmation came from corporate communications manager at the Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) Dominic Hinds, as he gave a breakdown of the number of citizens listed to vote for the electoral districts of Barataria and Belmont East today.

Hinds said the EBC has put all measures in place for 13,444 electors who are registered to vote in both electoral districts. Voting hours are from 6 am to 6 pm.

Six candidates will be contesting the polls.

For Belmont the United National Congress (UNC) has announced Lianna Babb-Gonzales, the People’s National Movement (PNM) is being represented by Nicole Young and the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) has offered Felicia Holder.

Contesting Barataria is UNC’s Sharon Maraj-Dharam, PNM’s Kimberly Small and Christoph Samlal is PEP’s choice.

The seats in the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation and Portof- Spain City Corporation became vacant following the death of PNM councillors Pernell Bruno on July 8, 2017 and Darryl Rajpaul on November 18, 2017.

Rajpaul captured 724 votes in Belmont East, while the UNC received 49. There were two rejected ballots. Taking home the Barataria district was Bruno who obtained 1,898 votes.

The UNC secured 1,506 votes. There were 12 rejected ballots.

In the 2016 Local Government Election, the combined voting population was 13,454. There were 10,217 voters in Barataria. Belmont had 3,237.

In this year’s by-election, Hinds said the EBC had revised its Belmont list of voters to 3,237, while in Barataria there are 10,207 voters — ten electors less compared to 2016.

Hinds said of the eight polling stations in Barataria there are 17 polling divisions.

Of the 17 divisions, he said polling station 1405 at Don Miguel Hindu Primary School in El Socorro has the largest number of voters of the two electoral district registering 2,010. “This is the largest number by far,” Hinds said.

Trailing behind is polling division 1336 with 961 electors at Barataria South Secondary School, followed by 691 voters at Barataria Anglican Primary School at polling division 1360.

Polling division 1380 at Barataria North Secondary School has the least with 321 voters.

At Belmont, Hinds said there were seven polling divisions. He said St Francois Girls’ College has recorded 618 voters—the highest number of voters at polling division 0810.

Following closely behind was 604 electorates at St Francis Boys’ College at polling division 0795.

Melville Memorial Girls’ AC Primary School has the smallest number of voters of 311 at polling division 0855.

At each polling station, Hinds said there will be a minimum of five polling day staff inclusive of a presiding officer.

Police officers will also be posted inside and outside the stations to ensure law and order.

Hinds advised that voters will not be allowed to enter voting booths with cellphones.

“We are fully prepared for the election. The EBC has everything in place,” Hinds said.

Electors are advised to call the EBC’s hotline at 627-1516 or 0745 if they have any queries or problems on polling day.


Felicia Holder, 30, is PEP’s chairman. She currently holds a BA in human communications and English literature from the University of the West Indies.  Holder is a communications officer who resides in Belmont.

Christoph Samlal, 25, is a photographer attached to PEP Media. He holds a BSc in mathematics and statistics from UWI. Samlal does a lot of humanitarian work for the underprivileged and vulnerable.

Lianna Babb-Gonzales owns Princerella Nursery and Kindergarten School in Belmont. She is a mother of three children and a boxing coach.

Sharon Maraj-Dharam is a homemaker and mother of two. She has been a party activist with the UNC for many years.

Kimberly Small has been involved in the PNM for over 10 years as a youth speaker.  She is currently an HSE officer at a research institute. Small has worked in three successful election campaigns and served as PRO of the PNM’s party group 16.

Nicole Young is a past student of St Joseph Convent, Port-of-Spain ,and a graduated of UWI with a BSc in psychology. Young started her professional career as a social work assistant and is currently a Ministry of Education guidance counsellor. From 2015 to 2016, Young served as PRO for party group 5, Port-of-Spain North/ St Ann’s West.

Categories: News

YTC Inmate escapes at Best Village show

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:40

Training Centre, at Golden Grove, who escaped custody on Saturday had been once described as an inspiration to many of the youths at the facility and had earned a role as part of the prison’s mentoring team.

Mason Ramjassingh, 21, who is awaiting trial for murder, often went from school to school lecturing to students about the mistakes he made in life.

It is believed that Ramjassingh managed to escape while on a trip to the National Academy for the Performing Arts for a Best Village function in Port-of-Spain.

Guardian Media was informed that around 9 pm on Saturday, officers who were escorting the contingent of prisoners realised that Ramjassingh was missing.

The guards immediately contacted the West End Police Station and a manhunt was launched. Checks were made at Ramjassingh’s family’s home at Sea Trace, Diego Martin but he was not found.

Police said Ramjassingh has been on the mentoring team for five years and has been appealing to youths from schools to stay away from a life of crime. He is currently awaiting trial and has been committed to YTC since 2014, on a capital charge.

At a recent Peace over Violence function at Couva West Secondary, Ramjassingh said he was incarcerated since 2014 and all of the friends abandoned him after he was charged. The only one who remained at his side was his mother, he said at the time.

Anyone with information on Ramjassingh’s whereabouts should contact Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS or the nearest police station.

Categories: News

Man killed after defending wife

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:38

Dillon Lucas was stabbed multiple times as he tried to protect his common-law wife from unwanted sexual advances from an older man outside a Debe casino yesterday.

Eyewitnesses said he bled to death while the police looked on.

The attacker who remains warded under police guard at the San Fernando General Hospital, also stabbed Lucas’s friend Kailash Seepersad on the hand, before being stabbed with his own knife during the scuffle.

Police said Lucas, 31, of Douglas Trace, St Mary’s was the father of five. He suffered three stabs on the chest and neck.

During an interview, Seepersad said Lucas, his common-law wife Shantal Roysam, 21, and a few of her relatives including her uncle Johnlane Ramkissoon went to lime at Cloud 9 Casino at SS Erin Road, when a stranger began making advances at Roysam and her sister.

Seepersad said the man looked much older than them.

“I said to him, ‘leave the girls, she is a little girl in front of you.’ Then he pulled out this big fish knife. He spun around and started to stab me on my hand. The rest of the people started to shout ‘Why you do that to the youth man.’ All of this took place outside the club,” Seepersad said.

Lucas jumped in the fracas and he and the attacker began rolling on the ground. The man stabbed him three times and then got up bleeding.

Roysam’s uncle Johnlane Ramkissoon, who came out of the casino, saw Lucas on the ground with blood spurting from his injuries.

He said police came afterwards and he begged them for help.

Roysam said she ran to the officers crying and begging them to help but the officers cursed her and chased her away.

“I beg the police and they were cussing we and running we. He was already bleeding. I said help me, they cuss me and run me. They said ‘go from here.’ I couldn’t go and leave him,” Roysam wailed.

Two hours later, they finally obtained transportation from a friend and took Lucas to the hospital. Roysam said the doctors told them that Lucas’s life could have been saved if he was brought into the hospital immediately.

“There are three police stations close by. The Debe, Penal and Barrackpore police could have helped us. They refused to help us. My husband could have been alive today if they had helped,” Roysam added.

Police denied yesterday that they failed to render assistance. The officers said they had called an ambulance and were waiting for the ambulance to arrive so that Lucas could be handled by professional medics.

Lucas’s relatives said yesterday that they were fearful for their lives as an associate of the attacker told them he knew where they lived. They also said they wanted police protection. An autopsy will be done on Lucas’s body today at the Forensic Science Centre today. Investigations are continuing.

Categories: News

‘An experience I will not forget’

News - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 22:36

If anyone had told me I could be going to Russia, I would have asked them to get their head checked. But destiny, as they say, has a funny way and there I was to witness the epic battle between France and Croatia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, at Luzhniki, Moscow yesterday. The experience is not one that I will soon forget.

Coming from the Caribbean, I was most impressed by the level of organisation that went into such a mega-sporting event. There didn’t seem to be any detail that was overlooked.

Russia waived its normal visa entry requirement for football fans, so all I had to do was get tickets and a fan pass was issued. That pass gave the holder entry into Russia and to the match venues. It also gave the holder free use of the metro on game days—and the Russian metro certainly proved it was up to the task of moving thousands and thousands of people without barely a hiccup.

Another popular saying is that Trinis are like salt: we in everything. It, therefore, came as no surprise to me to see at the second semifinal match between England and Croatia, there was Lystra Mohansingh proudly waving her Trini flag in the front row. We later connected on Facebook and I learned that she had migrated to Moscow from Trinidad.

The matches were so much more than they appear to be on the television. The venues open three hours before each match and I was in awe to see almost every country of the world represented; hearing accents I couldn’t recognise.

DJs and musicians created a party atmosphere, while patrons challenged each other to impromptu football matches or to see who had better skills with the ball. The love of the game truly transcended the language barrier.

Tens of thousands of fans transformed the stadium into a giant pulsing cell. There was no world outside while the match was on, and the 22 battling players were the nucleus of this magical being.

With the kick of the ball, they broke hearts or brought their country together. The uncertainty of defeat or victory left us all painfully at the edge of a constant see-saw that ingrained a sense of camaraderie in everyone there.

Even for me, who was not partial to any team, I couldn’t help by commiserating with the losing team and at the same time celebrate with the triumphant fans.

And did I say the Russians organised this thing well?

Imagine having to move 60,000 plus people leaving a venue at the same time. They did it seamlessly. Throughout the host cities, FIFA booths were also set up to provide information to tourists like myself. Signs and maps were everywhere to provide further guidance. Central Moscow itself was virtually transformed into the football mecca of the world. The World Cup brand was everywhere, from artistic displays, to fan zones (where you could show your football skills if you had the guts), to shop windows. Football fever was everywhere.

The World Cup also gave me the important opportunity to see what appeared to me to be the genuine warmth of the Russian people—something I did not expect. I was also absorbed into the culture and history that was apparent from touring Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia’s former capital city.

Security was also impressive. I felt safe everywhere I went in the host cities I visited. Overall it was clear that Russia was well prepared to host this event and to showcase its people and unique culture.

Hopefully, some notions created by the media will be dispelled. Indeed, I expected to spend most of my time drinking vodka and eating bad food, when I have had neither up to now.

Contended I leave this country, grateful and thinking about the only Russian word I learned—Spasibo—their expression of saying ‘thank you.’

Categories: News

Bringing CE-Intelligence to the Caribbean

Business Guardian - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:21

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with the European Union officially launched their market intelligence portal, known as CE-Intelligence.

At the media launch held at the newly renovated Warrens Great House last Tuesday, executive director Pamela Coke-Hamilton outlined the importance of the CE-Intelligence portal for private sector firms looking to grow their businesses through exporting to new markets.

“Trade, business intelligence and market research are key for the successful entry into export markets,” explained Coke-Hamilton. The portal will enable firms to “develop their own customised reports to learn more about market entry requirements in any given country, important trade data, and key business contacts” she added.

Head of Co-operation at the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and Caricom/Cariforum Luis Maia highlighted that market intelligence is an indispensable commodity in today’s technology driven environment. Further the portal will complement the EU’s Trade Helpdesk to enhance the business opportunities of those looking to penetrate the EU markets.

The CE-Intelligence portal was conceptualised to assist firms in being more strategic in their market entry plans as it provides an easily accessible platform for the region’s small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and business support organisations (BSOs) to access accurate and high-quality data free of charge, which reduces the cost, time and effort required to make strategic business decisions.

The question as to why many businesses did not make that move to export was raised by Minister Sandra Husbands in her keynote. Charging that a cultural fear of the unknown was often a reason for businesses not venturing in to export, Husbands congratulated the agency for providing a much-needed tool that will make it easier for firms to move out of their comfort zones to explore export markets and benefit from the economies of scale that are synonymous with larger markets.

Husbands called on entrepreneurs to make it second nature to include export as part of their business plans in view of the small market typical of small islands.

Categories: News

IDB: Fun can make a difference

Business Guardian - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:20

The Arima Velodrome was transformed into a street fair for the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Cheer Fair which featured over 14 collaborators and exhibitors covering six areas: health, education, water and sanitation, housing, gender and climate change. The theme, Fostering Human Development, was explored with fun, interactive activities, displays and exhibitions for all ages.

“The Cheer Fair was part of the IDB’s “Unfollow: Same Never Made a Difference” campaign which was launched in November 2017 and seeks to reach the wider public in a meaningful and active way, highlighting the need to be different while promoting change, collaboration, creativity and innovation from all sectors of society,” said Rocio Medina Bolivar, IDB’s country representative.

IDB’s Unfollow campaign has five components. The Cheer Fair was the second of three Pillar Events.

Also, highlighted, at the Cheer Fair, was the Unfollow Box, a state-of-the-art mobile video recording booth that invites people to share their thoughts, ideas and solutions in response to questions related to the development and future of T&T.

“The Cheer Fair and Unfollow Box gave people a chance to be part of IDB’s movement to drive positive change,” added Medina Bolivar.

Categories: News

Future of Caribbean marketing is integrated

Business Guardian - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:10

Consumers today are more connected and empowered than they’ve ever been, and it means that even here in the Caribbean, businesses must radically evolve the way that they engage, sell and market to their customers.

The Telecommunications Authority of T&T’s (TATT) Annual Market report 2016, showed that mobile penetration across our population of 1.3 million stood at 160 per cent, with over 700,000 mobile internet subscriptions.

Sales and marketing against this backdrop is tough, mainly because marketers must engage connected consumers who have access to more information than ever, making them both empowered, and overloaded. In addition to customers engaging businesses far later in the purchase decision journey, research shows that consumers overwhelmingly trust their peers and online reviews more than advertising.

In my over ten years as part of a digital agency, I’ve seen a lot of evolution in the approaches to marketing taken by local businesses. Sales and marketing leaders have become more and more adept at utilising digital in their marketing and engagement of customers, but we’re now at a turning point. The next wave of marketing that will have impact in the Caribbean is the imperative to seamlessly integrate marketing.

That assessment has led me in my own agency to transform from being focused on helping marketers harness digital to reach, engage and sell to customers, to a broader focus on integrated marketing. With web, mobile and Internet technology here to stay, consumers move easily between the online and offline worlds and except brands to do the same.

That core insight has led me as an agency owner to also seek to evolve from a digital-only focus to a more expansive integrated marketing focus at the newly branded Caribbean Ideas, Synapse, because regional leaders need more and more help adapting to this change in customer behaviour.

Caribbean sales and marketing leaders are working to engage a variety of consumers through the entire consumer product lifecycle, and increasingly struggle with the mix of content creation, storytelling and cross-channel marketing that is most effective.

Many feel forced to compromise, choosing between agency partners that may be good at digital or traditional marketing but not both. Some hire separate agencies for the subject-matter expertise, but because of a lack of experience in managing multiple partners, they struggle to get truly integrated results. Others take a different path, choosing the simplicity of working with one partner, but accepting that they are losing out on expertise in one area or another, leading to a different disconnect.

The reality is that true marketing success is impossible to achieve without consistent, connected experiences that consumers can see, feel and engage with across multiple platforms and channels. Creating the type of powerful campaign that achieves this requires significant skill at both left-brain marketing that relies heavily on strategy and data, and right-brain marketing that is personified by brilliant creative design.

For us at Synapse, marketing is about integration and storytelling in service of key business goals. Our focus is on helping modern marketers who need to tell compelling, connected stories to today’s consumer wherever they consume media, and wherever they are in the buying cycle.

Our philosophy, is that the future of Caribbean marketing is about putting together left brain and right brain marketing, combining analytics and data with creativity and storytelling to achieve success and show ROI. Our belief in this future led us to evolve from our pure play digital history to the integrated marketing agency that is now Synapse, where helping marketers excel at delivering storytelling, messages and experiences cross-channel is our focus.

These approaches can be immensely powerful, as we observed in recent work with Republic Bank. As collaborative partners, we were both inspired to change the conversation on and offline in T&T from many negative things—crime, unemployment and corruption—to one that reminds all of us that there are pockets of positivity around us. As a financial institution, attempting a campaign that was more focused on storytelling than disruption advertising was a departure, particularly in the typically busy Christmas period where product marketing is usually top focus.

The resulting #BetheOne campaign focused on promoting the things we can all do to make life better for ourselves and others, showcasing foundations, people and scenarios where good was being done in the market. With a heavy focus on storytelling in digital and other channels, this campaign has already crossed the 1 million video views mark and counting.

It has also gone on to win two Silver Addy’s for Social Media Campaign and Social Media Single Execution at the Caribbean Addy awards, a prestigious award that recognises excellence in advertising and creative industry standards.

The campaign and resulting win reinforced that great content and storytelling are essential parts of modern marketing, but they are also just one component. Mastery of integrated marketing will challenge Caribbean marketers to excel in the ways that they communicate, track and measure success and tailor marketing efforts to the media consumption habits of different consumers.

We believe that while it’s never been harder to be a sales and marketing leader, there’s also more opportunity than ever before to develop deep, long-term customer relationships and brand advocates.

The future of marketing is integrated.

Categories: News

Flexible childcare for working parentsLewis

Business Guardian - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:05

It’s often difficult to balance work and home and it can be particularly hard for the single parent who must juggle time carefully.

Finding services that are efficient, reliable and properly cater to the needs of children is difficult, if not daunting. How can these needs be tailored for working parents who often barely make the daycare’s pick-up on time?

Lenice Lewis-Patterson and business partner Judith Montague have founded Kidz Biz TT, this country’s first corporate daycare, located in bustling Port-of-Spain, to address those concerns and needs.
But what is corporate daycare?

Lewis-Patterson explained: “It’s a unique corporate sponsored childcare company that offers full-time, part-time and backup care services to employees.”

Lewis-Patterson, who can identify with the many challenges working parents face, explained how her own experiences inspired her to start the business.

“As a working mother of two I fully understand the needs of working parents. I know first-hand how challenging it is to balance work, family life and all else and I know finding the right childcare is incredibly important.

“The lack of accessible flexible and affordable childcare was an impediment to being both a devoted mom, wife and an employee. When my second son was born, I started to feel hopeless because I knew I had to find someone to care for him when I went back to work. To help ease that stress, I hired a stay-at-home nanny—an expensive and sometimes stressful process,” she said.

Her search for a proper childcare facility was a task in itself which led to even further frustration.

“I looked at the market and the availability of quality services and I realised a lot of moms were just like me—looking for the best way to care for their children without breaking the bank. I thought, there must be better options for working parents but guess what, there was none,” Lewis-Patterson said.

This very lack of suitable solutions presented a new, exciting business opportunity for Lewis-Patterson and Montague.

“It’s a terrific feeling to open your own business and even more rewarding that you can be of service to others, especially children,” Lewis-Patterson said.

How is Kidz Biz TT different from other daycares located across the country?

“We partner with companies to get sponsored childcare that offers full-time, part-time and back-up childcare services by offering flexible childcare as we cater to each family’s specific needs. We work with them to offer the best possible solutions.

“By partnering with Kidz Biz TT, employees have access to guaranteed full-time or flexible part-time care,” Lewis-Patterson explained.

The facility also offers perks such as webcam access, allowing parents the ability at any time view their children while at work or from anywhere in the world. Cameras are also strategically placed outside to monitor people entering the daycare.

“Doors are kept locked, even though we have burglar proof on all doors,” Lewis-Patterson said.

Given the hectic work schedules some parents face almost daily, Kidz Biz TT facilitates pick-ups from schools located close to the centre.

“A safe, nurturing and enriched learning environment for your child. We provide you with peace of mind, so you can feel good about going to work everyday and knowing your child is safe and secure and you don’t have to worry about having to leave work to pick-up. We take care of all of that.

“Advantages for parents: flexibility, guaranteed spots and peace of mind knowing that your child is taken care of and loved,” Lewis-Patterson said.

Even greater benefits will be reflected in the workplace, including less absenteeism and greater productivity.

Companies, Lewis-Patterson recommended, can offer these benefits as an incentive to enhance recruitment and retention packages for their employees and also use it as a public relations tool.

“Increasing numbers of employees are working parents and statistics show that employees with young children are the demographic most likely to require time away from work. The reason most often cited is issues with childcare.

“Family-friendly programmes can assist with some of the challenges in balancing work and family demands,” she said.

On assurances that selected employees fit every criteria, she said a vigorous screening process is used.

“Our employees are interviewed by my business partner and me and must present references, which we check. One of the interview questions is about how they would discipline a child and based on the answer we have a few follow up questions.

“Of course, these answers help determine who we hire. We also have cameras in all the rooms of the nursery, and we do random playbacks on various days,” Lewis-Patterson explained.

Prices have not yet been worked out for corporate packages but for walk-in parents fees range between is $250 and $1,500. The first centre is located at 30, Dundonald Street, Port-of-Spain.

For more information, email [email protected], or call 708-8299 or 689-9893.

Categories: News

NGC head dares business leaders to be transformative

Business Guardian - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 01:00

Delivering a powerful address on the need to transform, NGC group chairman, Gerry C Brooks, shared an energy sector perspective, including a focus on NGC repositioning its business in the context of a changing regional and global ecosystem. Brooks was part of a distinguished panel of guests including Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, at a recent T&T Chamber Industry and Commerce Business Outlook breakfast meeting.

With a focus on energy and the economy the NGC Chairman emphasised that there are green shoots of growth in T&T’s economy underpinned by a rebound in the energy sector. That rebound is being propelled by increased production of natural gas which is projected to increase to 3.8bcf in 2018, 3.9bcf in 2019 and 4.05 bcf in 2020.

This enhanced production is being supported by improved pricing for ammonia, methanol and LNG from the nadir (lows) of 2016. This augers well for foreign direct investment (FDI) improvements, USD earnings, and a trickle-down effect through the economy. Increased income from the new royalty gas will also supplement both GDP ad US$ earnings in 2018 and beyond.

He emphasised that T&T businesses must remain disciplined and focused to ensure competitiveness and improved productivity. He urged businessmen to leverage unused capacity in their manufacturing plants to find new markets and to explore the several partial scope and bilateral treaties with Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and other territories to improve export sales and earnings, recommending that they capitalise on the recently created Exim facility and other recently created government initiatives.

Brooks provided a comprehensive economic review, noting that several important country indicators were poised to improve in 2018 with GDP expected to turn positive at around one per cent.

He attributed NGC’s improved profitability of 37 per cent over 2017 figures to a focus on cost containment, productivity and margin management, leadership and improved market pricing.

Referring to the transformative approach to its contract architecture and framework, Brooks reaffirmed that “a secure supply of gas is our main imperative as a domestic aggregator.” He noted that excellent progress has been made in increasing supply as well as on streamlining contract provisions, completing negotiations and resolving $4.7 billion in claims.

Brooks noted that the infrastructure capex spend of NGC in the next two years would exceed US$2 billion which will provide considerable commercial opportunity for the business sector.

Additionally, US$3 billion of foreign direct investment is under active consideration with a view to locating new plants at estates including Union Industrial Estate in La Brea.

“Dare to be transformative” was his call to action as he encouraged businesses to change their current business models and take bold, yet calculated risks necessary for transformative growth.

Categories: News

Developing the right mindset for success

Sports - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 00:55

“He can do it to near perfection in training but in the actual game, he struggles to really live up to expectation or deliver when needed.”

How often have we come across situations like that when an athlete who possess all the ingredients but somehow manage to put it all together for the performance that will really bring success.

Research continues to show that performance anxiety continues to be a problem as athletes put too much energy into winning but not enough into developing a winning attitude.

Too much emphasis on winning creates fears and nervousness about not winning.

This fear, in turn, tends to hurt the athlete’s performances and hinders their ability to play to their full potential. Belief plays an integral role here even before you put on a winning performance.

Have you reached a point where you feel you are not improving? Has it been some time since you felt like you performed at your personal best? While hitting a plateau in improvement is inevitable, your attitude can play a huge role in your ability to continue to improve beyond that point.

Recall the period when you first took up your challenge whether it be a sport or some kind of task or training regime.

You found passion in it and satisfaction with the conclusion of each effort. Every person in fact athletes of every sport will experience some degree of exponential improvement initially. Big gains, fast. There’s no better feeling in the world. And staying in a positive environment will only help. The positive feedback feeds your motivation, dedication, and consistency. And those are exactly the feelings that get you hooked!

Setbacks will happen; everyone experiences setbacks from beginners to pros. They can be circumstantial such as injuries and illness or the plateau in improvement where it seems like you’re doing everything right but not getting better. Having the right mindset- one that is focused and positive- is key to overcoming setbacks.

Having the right attitude can make adversity just a little easier to overcome. These tough circumstances are sometimes out of our control but our attitude is something that can be controlled. It’s unrealistic for an athlete to expect a world-class performance every time they compete. But always having a positive attitude in sports and giving a good effort can take an athlete a far way in sports and in life.

Let’s take a look at Croatian footballer Luka Modric, a player with all the assets who set goals of achieving greatness. Disappointed with his personal performances in Brazil four years ago, Modric decided that more needed to be done in order for more to be achieved. He believed that he could go further and we’ve seen evidence of it in Russia. He wanted to go further and surpass the Croatian “Class of 1998” that first inspired him as a boy. Today he’s in the World Cup Final in Moscow.

“He’s the engine that makes us go,” Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic said. “He’s also a captain who leads by example. He always gives his maximum, sets high standards with his attitude, aggression and energy on the pitch, and with his behaviour off it.”

Modric said he remained positive after his first season at Real Madrid that didn’t go all according to plan.

“I never doubted myself, I knew I would succeed in Madrid, but since I did not have a preseason and I came to a club that from the first day wanted me to be at a high level...the demand was incredible. I knew I was going to suffer a little, that I would not be able to demonstrate what I showed later. But I also enjoyed these moments because when I face difficult things, I can’t stop believing in myself. The situation at the beginning made me learn a lot and helped me for the future,” Modric said.

We can take something out of his approach.

If you’re an athlete or simply enjoy competitive sports, developing a positive mental attitude can help give you an edge. Stay focused and practice positivity.

Shaun Fuentes is a media trainer, coaching athletes how to present themselves before cameras and how to handle the microphone. He has travelled for work in over 75 countries and was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He also serves as a CONCACAF Competitions Media operations officer.

Categories: News

Army, Central in finale

Sports - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 00:53

Central FC booked its place in the 2018 final of the 2018 First Citizens Cup after a 7-6 penalty win shootout over Police FC, after their semi-final contest ended 1-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday night.

Marvin Phillip proved one better than his T&T goalkeeping teammate Adrian Foncette when his second save of the shootout to deny Police winger Kareem Perry in sudden death send the Couva Sharks into the final against Defence Force FC which had earlier clobbered Morvant Caledonia United 4-0 in the evening’s double-header programme.

Brent Sam scored twice for three-time (2002, 2009 & 2016) champions Defence Force, separated by the half and goal from team captain Jerwyn Balthazar after Hashim Arcia had first put the Tetron Boys in front against the two-time (2011 & 2012) former champions Morvant Caledonia.

But for Central, the 2013 and 2014 champions, booking a place in Friday’s final required a gritty performance, a handful of yellow cards conceded, a Duane Muckette equaliser, and the heroics of Phillip between the sticks in the deciding penalty shootout.

Police, coached by Richard Hood, had taken the lead through Kareem Freitas after 12 minutes when he put a right side Kareem Perry cross past Phillip, to go level with Defence Force’s Sam on five goals as the tournament leading scorers.

That lead lasted until the 70th minute when Muckette, free in the heart of the Police penalty area, levelled the Stern John-coached Central with a solid finish past Foncette off a hard-worked Anthony Wolfe cross from the left.

Police, however, tossed victory to the wind when substitute Keion Wilson lifted a low Nequan Caruth cross—which had a goal written all over it—over the cross-bar from inside the six-yard area and the goal at his mercy in stoppage time.

After penalties from Todd Ryan, Kurdell Brathwaite, Ryan O’Neil, Kareem Freitas, Dexter Alleyne and Wilson, team-mates Clevon Mc Fee and Kareem Perry were denied by Central’s keeper Phillip.

For the winners, Kerry Baptiste, Wolfe, Keron Cummings, Akim Armstrong, Taryk Sampson, Dwight Pope and Jared London all hit the back of the target for Central, which face an even bigger challenge against Defence Force in the title match.

The Marvin Gordon-coached Defence Force took a 1-0 lead against Morvant Caledonia in the 29th minute through Arcia, who from inside the right of the box, drilled a low shot past goalkeeper Terrence Lewis and into the far bottom corner.

Lewis later acrobatically put behind a strike from Sam who had held off two challenges in the box before letting off the left-footed shot.

But Sam celebrated his first on the night three minutes from the break with a low drive into Lewis’ far bottom corner. The lanky forward completed his double and his team’s 4-0 win from close up in the 83rd minute after Balthazar had turned in a short feed from substitute Kellon Serrette two minutes earlier.

The win means First Citizens Cup final number 10 for the Army/Coast Guard combination.

Friday’s First Citizens Cup 2018
Semi-Final Round

Defence Force FC 4 (Hashim Arcia 29’, Brent Sam 42’, 83’, Jerwyn Balthazar 81’) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0, at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 12’) vs Central FC 1 (Duane Muckette 70’), at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Central won 7-6 on penalties

Categories: News

Women footballers tune up for CAC

Sports - Sun, 07/15/2018 - 00:50

T&T’s senior women’s footballers are completing their final few days of preparations before departing for Colombia to contest the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Barranquilla.

The team, being coached by Jamaal Shabazz will open its Group B account against Mexico at the Estadio Moderno Julio Torres on July 20, and will face Nicaragua two days later (July 22). The T&T women will then close off its campaign against Haiti on July 24.

The team has been back to full-strength following the return of goalkeeper Kimika Forbes who has fully recovered from injury and defender Arin King.

The top two teams from the group will advance to take on the top two team in group A, which comprises hosts Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica and Costa Rica on July 30.

Shabazz said the mood in the T&T camp is an upbeat one as his team looks ahead to the final CONCACAF Caribbean round of World Cup qualifying in Kingston, Jamaica in August.

After a training session on Wednesady at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, defensive midfielder Karyn Forbes said: “We need to be a bit more focused going into these games simply to play Mexico, Haiti and Nicaragua which are all organised teams.

“We have some new players in the squad including the return of my sister Kimika and King, as well as other players like Liana Hinds. We know these opponents and their capabilities, so we will be taking each game at step at a time and trying to ensure we are as solid as possible.

“Having them back in the team gives us more stability from the back come up. King brings her experience from Canada and Kimika from Colombia. It’s about having everyone helping the team in the best way possible. The mood now is really good. We are trying to push the younger players seeing they are part of the next generation coming forward.”

Under-20 player Natisha John is also anticipating a place on the senior team.

“It has been a great experience so far. I think we have it in us to bring it home when we get to Jamaica and secure a spot in the CONCACAF Finals. We know the Caribbean teams tend to come strongly at us so we know we have to bring our A-game.

This CAC Games will also present a good opportunity to get some match time before we travel to Jamaica for the qualifiers.”

Categories: News


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