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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 23, 2024


April 17, 2004 – Seven St. Croix Educational Complex seniors gained insights on small business ownership, professional development, and customer service as the Women’s Business Center held its fifth Economic Development Conference at the Divi Carina Bay Resort on St. Croix this week, April 15 to 17. This year’s theme was Entrepreneurship: the Golden Key to Self Sufficiency.
Bernadette Richards, director of WBC, said the conference sessions were designed to help participants "by arming you with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for launching a business."
Lorna Owens, former entertainment attorney, who developed a charitable organization that funds Caribbean Heart Menders that provides open heart surgery to children in the Caribbean and $10,000 per year to a women’s clinical van in India that provides HIV counseling from village to village began the conference.
She told the students, "It is not about the idea, it is about the person. What sets you apart from others?"
Owens, a Jamaican native who has lived in Miami for 20 years, urged participants to control their environment. "Think outside the box." She also emphasized retaining one's credibility. "You can’t regain credibility."
Clinton Williams, one of two males among the seven National Honor Society members said, “She (Owens) was really excellent and motivated me even though I'm not a female." Next fall he is off to Florida Institute of Technology as an engineering major.
Though he has no plans of starting a business in the near future, Williams felt the insights as to what employers require will serve him well as an employee and future manager.
During a lunchtime address, Beverly Drew-Petrus, co-owner of four Subway franchises on St. Thomas with her husband, former Sen. Allison Petrus, urged prospective business owners to research the area of franchising in selecting a business. She said franchisers offer a "package deal" of tools, training, equipment and consulting.
Drew-Petrus said her greatest struggle is getting employees to understand that she has zero tolerance for poor customer service.
The seven seniors were Williams, Amina Johnson, Maisha Frederick, Trisha Sylvan, Samuel Mootoo, LaDonna Joseph and Kimberly Ayala.
Atty. Marjorie Rawls Roberts outlined all the opportunities and benefits there are for small businesses in the Virgin Islands in a presentation called Sun, Sea, and Savvy: Opportunities Abound.
Roberts told the audience it was not difficult to find an educated and enthusiastic workforce. Roberts also spoke about types of small business entities and government incentives.
Thursday’s sessions included a personality profile analysis by Caroline Kalil, author of Arches of Rainbows in the Workplace-The Diversity of Employees. Dr. Audrey Alvarado spoke on Making Nonprofit Your Business-Starting and Growing a Nonprofit organization.
Sessions on Friday were Attracting and Retaining the Best and the Brightest To Your Company; Creating and Implementing Effective Proactive Customer Service in Your Business; Using Your Creativity in Business; and Sustaining a Nonprofit.
Saturday’s half day sessions were Mind, Body and Soul — Thai stretch therapy and Feng Shui — Improving Life by Design.
Virgin Islanders were invited to join the WBC for its Empowerment Gala Saturday night in the ballroom. Cocktails were at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Honorees are Zora Galvin and Angela Morales. Lucinda Yates is the keynote speaker.
Yates is the founder of Designs by Lucinda a jewelry design and craft company she started after being homeless due to a divorce and financial setbacks. The company now has a line of jewelry as fundraising products, international distribution and 50 employees.
For more information contact the WBC at 773-4995 or visit www.wbcvi.org.
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