The Road to GES2019 Caribbean brought together prime ministers, thought leaders and entrepreneurs on Curaçao to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the Caribbean

On March 14 and 15, 2019 Curaçao hosted The Road to GES2019 Caribbean. Ministers, government officials, thought leaders and entrepreneurs from all over the Caribbean, the United States, the Netherlands and even Africa attended the event. Among attendees were US Consul General Margaret Hawthorne, US Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra, Acting Director of Foreign Economic Relations of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Guido Landheer, Prime Minister of Curacao, Eugene Rhuggenaath and Prime Minister of Aruba Evelyn Wever-Croes. During the event, OnePlanetCrowd launched its Caribbean branch and floating boats between Caribbean islands were announced by entrepreneur Jay Collado. 

Launch OnePlanetCrowd
During the session Access to Finance, the crowdfunding platform OnePlanetCrowd announced that it will be expanding to the Caribbean. OnePlanetCrowd is the biggest sustainability crowdfunding platform in the Netherlands which finances sustainable entrepreneurs and energy project developers through crowdfunding. The organization wants to expand its services to Curaçao. De Vries, Managing Partner: “It is our intention launch OnePlanetCrowd Caribbean together with our partner Innovate Today before summer. With this service, OnePlanetCrowd wants to offer a matching portal for investors, funds and Family offices in order to directly invest and foster a sustainable Caribbean economy.” In order to realize this, the platform still needs to arrange some practical issues, but right now the organization is mainly seeking for entrepreneurs and energy projects that need capital for their launch. Entrepreneurs can apply at Valerie Vallenduuk, Global director of Innovate Today. She lives on Curaçao and is known on the island because of the program Present Your Startup Caribbean.

Floating Boats
During the Sustainable Tourism session, Bonaire-based entrepreneur Jay Collado announced floating boats between Caribbean islands. Jay participated in Present Your Startup Caribbean 2018 and raised more than 20 million dollar with private investors after they saw him pitching on stage and in the media. Together with his investors he bought the first 12 floating boats, which are completely sustainable with solar energy (zero-emission). Four boats are going to be in use by the end of this year. The other boats will follow next year.  

Sessions on health, Energy & Water and the Future of Work
During different sessions, health, Energy & Water and the Future Of Work were discussed by thought leaders and entrepreneurs. 

During the session on Health, participants discussed the future of healthcare on Curacao. The session was hosted by House of Change at Nobo Otrobanda Hospital. Richard Visser emphasized the importance of patient centre healthcare on the island and internationally.  The lunch of the session was sponsored by Deloitte and there were lots of interactive sessions. 

James Ellsmoor (Forbes 30 under 30) introduced the Energy & Water session at Amazia together with Darick Jonis of Aqualectra. “Islands could take advantage of their size. They are small and therefore they could advance on the development on innovation in the energy sector.”

During the session themed Future of Work the attendees discussed what labor and work in the Caribbean will look like in the future. Adric Walter hosted Mastermind Talk. "Nowadays we can see that people can work from anywhere in the world being digital nomads and this can have it's advantages and very specific disadvantages like for example; there is nothing that can compete with that synergetic mastermind that is only possible when a group is working together towards a goal".

On the second day of the event, the hackathon ended. The startup Packed was announced winner of the hackathon during the standing dinner at the Maritime Museum and won 1000 US dollars powered by C3. 

Finals Present Your Startup Caribbean
Entrepreneur Cristal Legrand from St. Martin of the startup Le Grand Voyages was announced winner of the finals of Present Your Startup Caribbean 2019 which took place during the closing session of The Road to GES2019 Caribbean. Cristal wins a trip to the GES and a trip to Miami during the takeover of Curaçao at Venture Cafe. Gridspan Energy from the United States ended second and also wins a trip to Miami. 

Eva Kleingeld