The Pinelands Creative Workshop has established itself as a leader in cultural awareness and community engagement for over 30 years. Our programmes have spanned various sectors, including performing arts, entrepreneurship, education, housing, technology, and disaster preparedness. The institution continues to maintain its relevance in both the Pinelands community and in Barbados as a whole, and this recent Social Enterprise Approach to Eco Tourism with a focus on sustainable tourism is no exception.
Tourism experts have been exploring the Blue Economy approach by examining niches such as ecotourism and sociocultural tourism in an effort to raise awareness of sustainable environmental practices. This project stood as a direct response to this emerging interest and challenged participants to reimagine Barbados’ tourism product in the face of global environmental challenges such as climate change. Specifically, the project was developed to pilot a social enterprise training model which will target new eco-tourism projects that focus on the Blue Economy. It therefore combined the principles of sustainable entrepreneurship with the agenda of the Blue Economy, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
In March 2020, under funding support by the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and further support from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, the PCW Project Team introduced the Social Enterprise concept to organisations such as the Barbados Youth Business Trust, Eco Rebel, Ichirouganiam Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR), Step Up Sustainable Solution, CARE Barbados, House of Re-Discovery and African Heritage Foundation to begin discussion around social business ideas that have potential for further development. The NGOs underwent an intense 10-day training process, following which they presented their ideas to a three-member panel, and the best 2 concepts were chosen to receive additional development support provided by the Barbados Youth Business Trust. Through this support, the 2 organisations received mentorship to strengthen the key concepts in the areas of social enterprise and business management. The 2 successful projects were presented by Janette Trotman of Ichirouganiam Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) and Sade Deane of Step Up Sustainable Solution.
Sade Deane is no stranger to the workshops facilitated by PCW and spoke very highly of her experience in this recent training project. She noted that she has a keen interest in sustainable tourism and therefore saw the training as an opportunity to present a solution to climate change by merging her areas of specialty (Computer Science, Tourism and Project Management) with her civil society background. Through the training, Sade was able to refine her project idea to one which now proposes a climate change solution through engaging travellers and businesses to invest in climate action by working with change makers such as educational institutions, civil society and community groups. In reflecting on the training, she was especially impacted by the model which struck a balance between social responsibility and business development in a way that both areas supported each other. She is very passionate about the proposal which she has developed, particularly because it is one which has a long-term potential.
Sade projects that her project, the Carbon Credit Service, will assist with funding other institutions and groups who wish to carry out climate action. She expects that this will help the economy to be more resilient against the impacts of climate change while also supporting the growth of the Blue Economy. Her mentorship under the Barbados Youth Business Trust allowed her to refine her project and to create a phased plan for implementation so that she would not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the overall project. She has been very encouraged by the feedback which she received in both stages of the training and she feels inspired to ensure that the proposal comes to fruition.
Much like Sade, Janette Trotman speaks very highly of the training initiative. Janet joined the project as a representative of the Ichirouganiam Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) which has leased 20 acres of land from the Barbados Government with the intention of developing an organic eco-farm. With no previous knowledge of social entrepreneurship, Janet signed up for the training specifically to gain experience in that area. She also saw it as an opportunity to assist with the coordination of the eco-farm project. Janet has never participated in programmes offered by PCW and therefore approached this one with an open mind. Once the training began, she was extremely impressed with the detail attention which was given to each participant as well as the freedom with which facilitators shared information. The training helped her to have a greater sense of clarity about what was needed to achieve the projected outcomes for the farm. She has also noted clear links between the Blue Economy, social enterprise and environmental awareness, saying that these will go a long way towards the restoration of our ecosystem.
The ICAR project is fully organic, with no chemicals or toxins begin added to the environment and with alternative sources of energy being used to reduce the carbon footprint. It will also increase the biodiversity of the area by planting a wide range of crops. The training provided by PCW and BYBT has significantly helped Janet and ICAR, especially in context to the business skills needed for making a 3-year projection for their project. Janet now considers the social enterprise model as a rewarding approach which allows individuals and businesses to make a profit while being socially conscious of the world around them. She lauds the programme for helping her to pay more attention to details, establishing business processes, and planning long and short-term project goals. These skills will undoubtedly serve ICAR well as they develop the sustainable eco-business and educational arms of their project.