black male entrepreneur using a tablet device in a blue and white plaid shirt

What began as a dream of two friends to empower fledgling Caribbean entrepreneurs can now be regarded as one of the most successful social enterprise partnerships between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and a private entity in support of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

NUDGE Caribbean, founded by Trinidadian design strategist and social entrepreneur Anya Ayoung-Chee and Massy Group corporate executive Julie Avey, is an alliance with the CDB’s MSME Unit of which the two are proud, as the first cohort of entrepreneurs “graduate” from the programme.

Established research on the challenges facing would-be entrepreneurs in the Caribbean include lack of access to capital, as they consistently struggle to access loans, grants and other resources needed to expand their brands.

Important also, NUDGE founders identified that successful businesses usually reach the right target market when they have the right products. Though entrepreneurs in the region have great products, they often have no direct channels to the customers in order to drive sales.

With a USD 1 million investment from Caribbean conglomerate Massy Group to develop and deliver programmes to entrepreneurs and USD$320,000 from the CDB, NUDGE targeted market-ready entrepreneurs across a range of products and services, eventually onboarding 69 from Trinidad, 44 from Barbados and 32 from St Lucia, to assist their brands.

All three islands enjoy a commercial presence from Massy Stores with the company leveraging its extensive corporate reach and access to propel the start-ups.

In their most recent report, the NUDGE team has increased the number of beneficiaries to almost 200 entrepreneurs who have been empowered by the programmes that facilitate business development, assists with marketing, and display space in the Caribbean’s leading retail businesses operated by Massy.

With the establishment of NudgeUp, the MSME enterprises are provided with a one-stop platform for entrepreneur education that promotes capacity and community building.

As Trinidadian entrepreneur Nigel Jordan of Twigs Naturals remarked: “NudgeUp is our own little space where we can go back and forth about what to try at markets and have live chats with our community managers. We share information to get better prices on orders . . .The true benefit transcends what they’ve done with the app.”

Commenting on the project’s success, Ayoung-Chee and Avey observed: “Until now, most entrepreneurs were unable to access the opportunities presented by collaboration with big business. We identify the challenges entrepreneurs face and harness the resources of big business to address them.

“NUDGE is the most direct bridge between innovative entrepreneurs and the Caribbean’s largest and most established companies. We are a unique actor that has trust with and proximity to both entrepreneurs and big business.”

Of their partnership with CDB Ayoung-Chee and Avey remarked: “We are proud to work alongside powerhouses like the CDB, who are committed to making a difference for our entrepreneurs and our region.”

For those directly impacted as a result of their involvement with NUDGE, they credit the project with placing their enterprises firmly upon a stronger, sustainable development path.

For 23-year-old Royston Hoyte and his Barbadian business partner Tyree Weekes, the business development support and exposure at Massy Stores for their gourmet food and beverage company Liquid Desires, along with USD 1,000 in capital support, propelled their enterprise to new heights.

“We get a lot more attraction. People recognise the logo – I’ll be wearing my pepper sauce hat and people will say ‘I saw this at Massy,” Royston stated.

Another successful product of the NUDGE programme is St Lucian Nydia Norville who developed a range of natural skin care products using the healing power of natural botanicals as the basis for her Choiselle line of skin care solutions.

For this small business, the capital, mentorship, and pop-ups at the Massy retail outlets allowed Nydia to launch the new product line. In just eight months, the Choiselle product line went from an idea and design to implementation and market-testing.

With successful pop-ups, and the relationships built along the way, Nydia’s brand is well on the way to success.


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