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Messages of passion, purpose headline VIEDA’s Women’s Business Workshop

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands – April 20, 2022 — The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) wrapped up their partnership with Women Striving for Success, Inc. (WSFS, Inc.), for the 2022 in-person Women’s Empowerment Conference with a workshop for women in business and teen girls on the entrepreneurship/business track.  The VIEDA hosted a Women’s Business Workshop on Wednesday, March 30, 2022 at the V.I. Small Business Development Center on St. Thomas, USVI, as a spin-off event for the Women’s Empowerment Conference. The conference was held on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 by WSFS, Inc. at the Ritz Carlton hotel on St. Thomas, an annual event for USVI women originated by former U.S. Virgin Islands Senator Janette Millin Young.

This workshop delivered on the opportunity for VIEDA representatives to share information about VIEDA programs and services with attendees, and included subject matter experts in entrepreneurship who shared their insights, advice and best practices for today’s small-business owner. This workshop was also held in collaboration with the V.I. Department of Education to include eight (8) young women participating from the Career and Technical Education Program (CTEP) at the Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean High Schools that are on the business and entrepreneurial track, an opportunity to encourage teens to consider becoming an entrepreneur in the future. This initiative from the VIEDA Marketing/Vision 2040 department was developed to support small businesses, particularly women and youth with interest in entrepreneurship in alignment with implementing Vision 2040: Initiatives 3.2 and 4.3.

As guidance for the women and students, the workshop’s guest motivational speaker and CEO of Infinity Global Connections, LLC, Dr. Adrienne Booth Johnson, and her husband Joe Johnson, Esq. – who are for-profit and social entrepreneurs – anchored their message on the importance of having passion, purpose and perseverance when deciding to become an entrepreneur.

“As an entrepreneur, you’re in control. You have the satisfaction of earning your own money, paying your employees, and being creative. Keep your eyes on your goal and stay in your lane. Many times you’re going to start small. Do it right and do it well. You never know [where it will take you],” said Dr. Adrienne Johnson.  Her husband highlighted the importance of finding a purpose in the entrepreneurial journey.   

“To be great, we learned that you have to perfect a skill. And to become an entrepreneur, you have to find your purpose and [learn how to] make money at it; discover what it is you are good at and what you can do or offer that no one else in the world can do. Find out what makes you unique and have discipline and determination,” said Attorney Joe Johnson.   

Alongside Ms. Millin Young, Ms. Cusa Holloway, business incubator program manager for the VIEDA Business Incubator Program, kicked off the workshop with welcome remarks and highlighted the partnership between the WSFS, Inc., and the VIEDA to assist women in the USVI community. Ms. Holloway later provided a general overview of the VIEDA’s services offered through the V.I. Economic Development Commission’s Eligible Supplier Program and Small Business Tax Incentive Program; the Enterprise Zone Commission’s (EZC) Tax Credit & Exemptions Programs, Accelerator Program, and the “Made in the USVI” Pop-Up Shop initiative; and the EZC’s administration and oversight of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ federally-funded State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Ms. Holloway also high-lighted the Economic Development Bank’s small-business programs for local small and medium-sized businesses. 

Margarita A. Benjamin, managing director, Economic Development; Nadine T. Marchena Kean, managing director, Enterprise Zone Commission; and Monique T. Samuel, director of Lending, Economic Development Bank all answered questions from the audience and weighed in on key aspects about their respective programs and services, including ongoing local and federally-funded initiatives that assist in fulfilling the purpose of these programs.

“The Enterprise Zone Commission received a grant to work towards resolving the challenges of multiple property ownership issue when it comes estate planning for the revitalization of small buildings,” said Nadine T. Marchena Kean, managing director, Enterprise Zone Commission. “The EZC will be hosting an estate planning conference in April 2022 as a multi-media event to accommodate information-sharing for primarily for persons Territory-wide, and a pilot program that is designed to assist families in resolving issues of multiple ownership of properties and estate planning,” added Mrs. Marchena Kean.

Monique T. Samuel highlighted the importance of having good credit, monitoring your product’s market, and rallying the best persons to join in your business endeavors.  “Take a hard look at what’s on your credit report and [begin to address them through making needed payments]. Also [look at the business climate for the industry you desire to enter] and consider how to differentiate yourself from the competition in your industry, and assemble a strong support system to operate your business.”

Semele A. C. George, VIEDA marketing and pr specialist, also highlighted the importance of developing a positive personal brand early in life prior to starting a career or embarking on an entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing the importance of having a good reputation especially online.

Other topics covered were business planning and money.  Ms. Holloway also solicited answers from the CTEP students through a question and answer segment to determine what lessons they learned from the workshop’s presentations.

For more information on the Women’s Business Workshop, send an email to info@usvieda.org .

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