Entrepreneurship in Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign state with the two large islands of Antigua and Barbuda and a number of smaller islands in the west indies, lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. St. John’s is the Capital and the largest Port city on Antigua, Codrington is the largest town in Barbuda. The islands were colonized by the British, having become independent in 1981. The population is approximately a hundred thousand people mostly inhabiting Antigua, the island of Barbuda has been completely evacuated to Antigua, during the hurricane Irma in September 2017 which destroyed its infrastructure, leaving it deserted for the first time in modern history.
Current Economic Scenario
Much of the economic activity revolves around tourism, which accounts for fifty percent of the GDP. Banking and finance are another sector that attracts economic attention by providing international banking services. Agriculture is pursued mainly for the domestic sector, manufacturing of handicrafts, bedding and electronic components is encouraged for exports. The economy is heavily reliant on foreign markets, declining market abroad affects its tourism sector directly.
Online casinos were encouraged in the 1990’s, but due to legal hassles with USA, entrepreneurs are not pursuing such tech ideas anymore.
Entrepreneurship Development Initiatives
The Prime Ministers Entrepreneurial Development Programme is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs to be able to launch their ideas and provide employment to economic benefits to many.
The government has passed the Small Business Development Act in 2007 to develop the entrepreneurial sector in the country. The Act entails various incentives for citizens as well as foreign nationals who want to start a business in the country.
The Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship program executed and managed by Orbit Innovation helps entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs with workshops, mentoring, ideation, acceleration, incubation and funding.
The Caribbean Climate Innovation Center a project of the World Bank and its Global Entrepreneurship program infoDev organizes competitions for entrepreneurs with ideas that are addressing climate issues, and successful concepts are given grants of up to US$ 50000.
The countries small population and geographical isolation presents opportunities to focus on global markets. Besides the government programs of attracting entrepreneurs to invest in the country in return for citizenship, they must also extend special initiatives for lifestyle entrepreneurs and digital nomads who could combine their stay in the country with their entrepreneurial endeavors.
PS: It is always great to hear from people who are part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, either in the region or have some entrepreneurial experience of the region. At the time of researching this post, I have reached out to some key personnel who can assist with valuable real time knowledge in relation to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Although I have not secured any direct and valuable knowledge in this regard, I still would like to hear from anyone who would like to share knowledge and experience in or of the region. A good way to start would be through the comments section below.