COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that threatens to dismantle the progress made towards development in the region. In addition to the health impact, this pandemic presents vast socio-economic challenges in the Eastern Caribbean: struggling tourism and import-export sectors are particularly hit. With island states starting to ease the lockdown, Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are between a period of business closure, declining revenue streams and difficulties to reopen. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean is taking action by empowering local and regional innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives to find solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. The UNDP #IslandHack Prototype Challenge will help find solutions to reactivate the economy, protect existing jobs and create new ones, as well as income-generating activities.

 

The #IslandHack Prototype Challenge (Hackathon) will take place May 12 – 22, 2020. Interested participants are asked to develop an innovative prototype or idea that will solve an Eastern Caribbean COVID-19 challenge. Preference will be given to ideas and prototypes that can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively. Judges will be seeking concepts with a high degree of innovation. Selected participants will be given access to mentorship from diverse experts in categories such as economics, hospitality, agriculture, fisheries, entrepreneurship and more to aid in the development and design of ideas or prototypes. The first-place finalist will receive US $10,000, while the second and third place finalists will receive US$5,000 and US$3,000 respectively.

 

Speaking on the importance of sourcing local and regional solutions, Nikola Simpson, Head of the Economic Transformation Pillar of UNDP’s COVID-19 Response Programme, noted, “the Caribbean is filled with entrepreneurs, creators and innovators and we want to empower our communities, by providing the necessary tools and support, to find actionable solutions to the challenges we as Caribbean people are faced with due to this crisis.” The #IslandHack is open to persons over the age of 18 who are recognized nationals in the following countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

 

For more information on #IslandHack and how to participate, visit: https://www.bb.undp.org/content/barbados/en/home/covid-19--response-programme/island-hack-prototype-challenge.html. Or contact via e-mail: acceleratorlab.bb.ec@undp.org  

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