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Trust Loans programme to increase entrepreneurial activity

Entrepreneurship plays a huge part in the growing economy of many countries across the world, and the island paradise known as Barbados is no different. The island while preparing to celebrate its 52nd year of Independence on November 30th, is also giving more financial opportunities to local start-ups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, through the recently launched ‘Trust Loans’.

Recently, Government launched a $10 million trust loan programme, under which starting on Monday, Barbadians can begin to apply for collateral loans to further their business visions.

“We recognize that people need a start; if you recognize, this Government has started a Trust Loan Fund for small businesses . . . . Most persons are finding it difficult to obtain loans from the commercial banks. So, we have set the policy framework so that small businesses can come and start $5,000 trust loans and that gives you a start,” said Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Commerce Dwight Sutherland.

Under this new and progressive programme, entrepreneurs can access loans of up to $5,000 at a minimal interest rate of 1.5 to 2%. Clients will be able to also borrow this amount once they have successfully repaid their initial loan.

Acting Prime Minister George Payne Minister of Small Business,  as he explained how the ‘Trust Loans’ programme would proceed, said that Government was seeking to provide ‘comprehensive entrepreneurial framework for small business development’.

He also announced that there would be a number of support mechanisms which included an alternative and user friendly website, a financial literacy bureau to assist entrepreneurs in becoming more financially savvy and a mobile phone app that help entrepreneurs complete loan applications and make payments among other features.

The ‘Trust Loans’ programme is set to provide in total $10 million dollars per year for the next five years that it will take to  seed a Trust Loans Fund.

“The revolving nature of these loans encourages successful recipients to abide by the repayment requirements, which in turn will continually permit the fund to be replenished so other entrepreneurs can benefit and prudent borrowers can reapply for additional financing,” said Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde, as he spoke during the launch of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2018.

“Increased entrepreneurial activity will go a long way in building more entrepreneurial citizens and excite our young people about getting involved in business, a borderless world where the technology opens new opportunities that were unavailable to previous generations,” he said.

Not only is it possible that the ‘Trust Loans’ will yield increased entrepreneurial activity, but the Minister also assured that there would be initiatives geared towards the encouragement of an entrepreneur in every Barbadian household, in an effort to maximize income earning potential, stimulate economic activity and increase the focus and spotlight of the Barbadian brand in both the Caribbean and International markets.

Two such initiatives are the Prime Minister’s Innovation Award worth $250,000 and the Youth Innovation Award worth $150,000 of prize money which are intended to spark new ideas, innovations and new business, leading to the generation of new wealth, jobs and bringing foreign exchange into the economy.

Fungi eats plastics and benefits environment

Fungi that eats plastic seems like a plot-twist right out of a sci-fi book or movie; however, this particular species of fungus which was found at a landfill site in Pakistan could be the real life solution to the ever growing plastic waste problem.

The Aspergillus tubingensis, is the species of fungus that researchers have found to feed off of plastic, breaking it down in weeks rather than years.

This is the not the first time finding organisms that feed off of plastic waste, as there were discoveries of bacteria that could break down plastic as well as the wax worm which can naturally degrade plastic due to its similar structure to that of its natural food, beeswax.

One of the reasons plastic had ballooned into the human substance of choice was because it was inert and therefore sterile. This meant that it could be used as ubiquitous as needed around the planet from food packaging to pacemakers to aviation.

However, the problem with plastics was the fact that they did not degrade easily , leading to  billions of tons of plastic still hanging around in landfills, and in the oceans , with more being added massive amounts of plastics in continue to be in production globally.

The fact that there are organisms ‘evolving‘ to exploit this new plastic –filled environment, has caused some researchers both a sense of excitement to study how they are doing so, but also some alarm  as well.

Scientists at London’s Kew Botanical Gardens reported that these organisms are an important advance in a world where momentum is building to reverse the toxic tide of plastic that is killing marine life and polluting the ocean.

Senior Kew Gardens Scientist Ilia Leitch, said that they are exploring these organisms for their potential to degenerate different types of plastic, explaining that “by understanding how the fungi break down these bonds and what the optimal conditions are, you can then increase the speed at which they do it.”

There are also other uses of fungi, including using it to feed on pollutants such as oil spills, toxic chemicals like sarin nerve gas, TNT and even radioactive waste.

The first-ever State of the World’s Fungi report, also spells out that advances in the agricultural applications of the various species of fungi could translate into improved food security, environmental sustainability and increased production revenues.

Climate change however, are affecting the the ranges of species of fungi and biodiversity in ways that the UN Environment (UNEP) revealed were still not fully comprehensible.

The fungi themselves are also under threat in high latitudes areas, especially where average temperatures continue to rise, such as the Arctic. These changes are already affecting fungi reproduction, geographic distributions and activity, with possible knock-on effects for our ecosystems.

“Species react differently to climate change, which disrupts the delicate interaction between them,” says Niklas Hagelberg, a UNEP climate change and ecosystems expert.

“This further complicates conservation; we need to quickly add climate change to our ecosystem management effort.”

 

 

Warmth this cold season is still fashionable

November is here and with it comes crisper weather, shorter days and a need for even cozier clothes.

November in my mind is the official beginning of the winter season, the time when it’s no longer just a ‘chill in the air’, but the introduction of real cold.

As the weather becomes colder many have a decision to make. Do you sacrifice fashion for warmth and heat or can you have it all?

If your fall and winter wardrobe is feeling lack luster, with nothing but the same old huge coats, boots and warm garments, then it is the right time to add some heat to your winter looks.

Are ready to give the season for chunky sweaters, blanket scarves, booties and all things cozy a touch of spice and heat, other than the need to be warm?

This fall and winter street styles are all about creativity and with that comes the joy of jumping right out of the box and mix and matching your fabrics for a new and unique look. Wool, plaid, silk and leather can work together to not only keep you warm, but are the basics for fun creative ideas.

When you’re feeling a little down in the dumps because of the colder temperature and darker days, go right ahead and add a huge splash of sunshine!

Yellow was the colour of the year for 2018 and it adds such a feeling of warmth, daring and joy to any outfit. Whether it’s a sweater, jacket, handbag or if you’re truly daring and bold enough, shoes, then go ahead and raise your spirits with the colour of the sun.

If you’re thinking yellow is too much for me, then why not reignite your summer feels and add some floral into the dark mix?

Transition your floral wide-leg pants to a fall look with the help of a chunky, bold sweater and black boots that peek out from the hem.

Not into floral pants?

Then mix it up with a floral chunky sweater, boots and dark jeans.

Letting your socks show is all the rage this cold weather season. A trend that is mostly seen with men, but can be a fun  and creative boost of fun and warmth for those women who want to still wear their kitten heeled slingbacks or fun mules. Pair these shoes with thin, chic socks in bright colours, or shimmery metallic or even argyle… the sky is the limit, so go nuts.

One of the best things about overalls is that they are a year round go-to! They are easy to wear and easy to dress up or down.  This fall and winter season, take them out of the closet and pair them with a fitted turtleneck tee, some loafer heels.

There are so many things you can mix and match to add some spice to your winter looks that will leave you both feeling fresh, fabulous and most importantly warm!

The big take away here is to not be afraid to of colours, patterns or to let your creativity shine through regardless of the season!

 

 

There must be more awareness on endometriosis

An American celebrity is calling for more awareness about the health risks endometriosis poses to women and especially those in the African American community.

When it comes to period cramps and women complaining of particularly painful ones, the consensus is usually to suck it up and keep going, because it is normal to have painful cramps when on your period.

In an essay published in OprahMag.com and WomensHealthMag.com, Tia Mowry-Hadrict, reveals that it took years for her to learn that the pelvic pain she had always dealt with was actually endometriosis, even going to multiple doctors.

“I’d been experiencing extreme pelvic pain for years and went to several doctors. Each one would brush me off. ‘Those are just really bad cramps, some women get them more severely,’ one told me. ‘Just put heat on it,’ one suggested. Another doctor simply said: ‘Get on the treadmill — working out helps,’ ”she said.

This is the story many women who experience the painful health phenomenon usually tell, until they are diagnosed accurately by a doctor who is well verse in the signs of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus instead grows on the outside. The displaced endometrial (uterus) tissue continues to act as it normally would, however because it has no way to exit the body, it becomes trapped and can cause severe pain especially during the period, which can also lead to fertility challenges.

The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain and is generally associated with the menstrual period.

Twenty-seven year old Yomi Perkins, an attorney in Barbados recalls her own battles with endometriosis stating that before her diagnosis, she would need to be on drips for the pain every month.

“I didn’t think anything of it as everyone always told me it’s normal to have cramps with your period. Years went by with these monthly cramps. I realized something was wrong when I was 21 my periods started coming every 2 weeks so I decided to see [my doctor], he did an ultrasound and told me my right ovary had a large cyst and he would have to run some test to ensure it’s not ovarian cancer.” She said in an interview with this magazine.

When the results came back, she was diagnosed with endometriosis and scheduled to have surgery to remove the ovary.

As most women with endometriosis can attest to, becoming pregnant is rare, and delivering a successful pregnancy can be extremely tough.

Recounting her experience with her now 4 month old twin babies, Perkins explained that every day she was still carrying was nothing short of a miracle.

“The pregnancy was a tough one I had to have an emergency cerclage in place as my cervix was practically nonexistent at 15 weeks and had to be on bed rest having weekly progesterone injections for the remainder of the pregnancy. I also had an elevated heart rate for the entire pregnancy my resting heart rate was 110.  I was also on tender hooks as every day I felt like my period would come,” she said.

Tia Mowry- Hadrict, revealed that she revamped her diet and underwent multiple surgeries to not only relieve her pain, but also increase her odds of successfully having her two children.

“Compared to other communities, it feels like there’s a void when it comes to talking about healthy living and medicine from African American women, for African American women,” she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the island gem that is Barbados

When you live in a tropical island paradise that is only 166 square miles, you would think that you would have exhausted most places to go visit and explore, but if you’re me, then that sadly is just not the case.

Contrary to many beliefs I sadly do not get to go to the beach nearly as often as I would like to and I have yet to truly travel around and explore all that Barbados has to offer, in its natural beauty and island charm.

To remedy this, a bunch of friends and myself, one day decided to just hit the road and let the winding roads of the island take us on an adventure. Normally, I get lost in the island easily because I have not traveled around the place enough, only frequenting the same familiar places over and over again.

However, as I learnt on that weekend trip, there are a lot of places around this island that still needs to be discovered, to be explored and the very best way to do it is to do it with friends.

So on that sunny and warm Saturday morning, four of us piled ourselves into a Japanese speaking car and set off for adventure. First place chosen was to St Philip, because there was a famous bar close to a light house that promised amazing food and drinks.

The view was nothing short of breathtaking. The lighthouse itself was a towering round structure and showed signs of its very old age, however, by unanimous decision, were admired only from the outside. None of the crew game enough to try to go inside the ancient contraption.

The views on the cliff were amazing, the sea rollicking bringing forth harsh waves that crashed mightily on the rocks on the very long drop below. It was a freeing experience, being there in the open with the salty sea spray shooting up on the rocks before receding for another attack.

I could actually feel my mind clear and relax, but it brought with it, a real appetite and soon the squad found the restaurant, which was such an out of the way ranch looking place, doused in music with a fired up grill.

I had the best time there with my friends and was even happier with a huge plate of BBQ ribs.

The journey continued with the gang travelling through dirt a road, coming up to what was decided had to be a haunted house.

While the decision was taken to stick to the South of the island, it was so much fun to really take a moment and appreciate the beauty of the island. Sometimes I forget that I’m in an island paradise as the pressures of work and family increase, however, I have to advise anyone, to take a day, no matter where you are and travel around the town or country that you’re in. there is nothing like the feel of the open road, an unhurried atmosphere and good friends to make the whole experience awesome.

 

Blockchain provides opportunities for Barbados

The world is moving further and further into the digital age and of course with that definitive move, there will be a need for financial transactions to be faster, safer as well as easily processed by different countries. That is where Blockchain comes into play.

Blockchain is being touted as the technology to revolutionize how financial transactions are done and is already becoming very significant to how banks will carry out international settlements, transfers and trade finance to name a few.

Blockchain is able to simplify complex processes and acts as a turning point for cross-border transactions with its verification and record keeping.

So it is easy to see why many financial markets will no doubt be looking to embrace blockchain as early as they can, and according to reports coming out of Barbados the island is ready to explore blockchain opportunities, as they push for more fintech companies.

Speaking to the media at the launch of the International Business Week Julia Hope, President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) explained that Barbados was looking to embrace financial technology ‘fintech’ push more fully.

As the association currently works towards meeting the deadlines imposed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) through its Base Erosion and Profit Shifting programme (BEPS), Hope assured that the sector officials would continue to examine new markets and opportunities for attracting diversified product offerings as well as the jurisdiction needed for those products and services to be marketed.

“We have some good companies in Barbados already operating – the likes of Polymath and AION, to name a couple,” she said.

“They are here; they are operating and this isn’t just digital currency, this is blockchain. We need to get the regulatory framework in place to enable these companies and others to thrive here, but we could very much become the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean and that is something to aspire to.”

In a joint statement issued by the Central Bank of Barbados with the Financial Services Commission (FSC), both institutions have recognized that fintech innovation could play a critical role in safely lowering the costs of financial transactions, while offering more efficient services to consumers without undermining the financial system.

To that end they have established a framework for a regulatory sandbox, which could last between eight to 12 weeks, to give the regulators an idea of how it will work as well as provide the clarity necessary for businesses offering innovative fintech services, solutions and products.

“One outcome is that having tested it, we don’t like what we see and there are too many risks for consumers, we regulate those activities. We regulate them in such a way that either the likelihood of loss is less or we regulate who can access it,” explained Economist and Chairman of the FSC, Avinash Persaud.

He said it could also attract new investors “that may want to try out a new product in Barbados and if it is successful they might want to try it out elsewhere,”  adding that within a year or so, the country would be in a position to go a joint sandbox with a regular in another country for firms who may be doing cross-border transaction.

The 7 hottest trends from the 60’s in 2018!

Everything comes back into fashion and the 60’s are back!

That was one of the many sayings that when it comes to fashion I have known to be true. This year, has shown that many designers have fallen back in love with the demure yet classic vibes of the sixties and instead of reinventing the wheel, have added that 60’s flair to their own modern designs.

Here are the seven top trends that are 60’s inspired but are rocking the 2k world.

The Mod Dresses

The Mod dresses are and always will be such a fixture in any woman’s closet, dressing like a mod means wearing tailored and stylish clothing in bold prints, bright colours and black and white combinations.

This style took off in the 1960’s in London, inspired by jazz music, European art films and of course the iconic Vespas and Lambretta scooters. As the years went on, these printed dresses continued to gain in popularity as they are so simple, chic and fun to wear.  While many of the 60’s fashion love is making a come-back in 2018, it can be argued that the mod dress was always a staple.

Peter Pan Collars

Let’s talk collars, more precisely, Peter Pan Collars. This unique collar style was all the rage in the 60’s because of its classic and demure look. The collar, gave the LBD (Little Black Dress) such a touch of class that many women preferred it, as they felt classy, and powerful in the style. It’s also looking like this particular collar will be making a huge impact on 2019’s Spring/Summer looks!

Shift Dresses

There is no way you can be talking about 60’s fashion and style trends without talking about the Shift dresses. These breezy dresses were loose and a bit boxy, so they looked good on just about any body type, also they were at the time a very nice contrast to the tight-bodiced A-line styles of the 50’s. The shift dress is for the person who wants to have fun and express their creativity.

Oversized Pearl Jewelry

If it’s the 60’s then, it’s all about the pearls. In that time period, just about everything was worn with pearls, particularly oversized pearl jewelry. Let’s face it, the 60’s Fashion trend for most women were all about elegance and class. It was a subtle kind of sexy with a somewhat stern edge and the jewelry also told the story.

Oversized Sunglasses

The bigger your shades were the better and this is trend that has showed right back up this year! After a brief tiny-frame fad, this summer, large sunnies are on their way back to their rightful place on the fashion totem pole. Next summer may see the modern look of the oversized sunglasses and tinted lens. Ah girl can hope.

MiniSkirts

When I think miniskirts and well most of any of the 1960’s era, I think Twiggy and there was no one who rocked a mini-skirt quite like that legendary model. Miniskirts were a nice contrast to the very austere A-line skirts that were also very popular in the 60’s and were usually worn with knee-high boots and high socks.

 

 

 

Women’s wrestling matches finally takes the spotlight!

It started officially with a simple hashtag on Twitter, and just like that women in pro-wrestling were no longer campaigning for better or longer matches behind the scenes, now the fans- millions strong -were also campaigning for them.

The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance went viral for three days and was so strong that WWE could no longer ignore the sweeping demands of their customers. The people had spoken and it was time for the female wrestlers to enjoy the spotlight just as the men.

For as long as I can remember I have loved watching wrestling and I had always accepted on some level that there were no real women matches, that the women were side characters, that their matches were more comic relief than actual story-lines, or they were stuck in crazy love interests and rarely had screen time.

At first I thought maybe they just were afraid to get as physical as the men, afterall a lot of them looked more like models than fighters. Then I became angry because I wanted to see more women have those chances, I wanted to know what it would be like to see a woman diving off the second rope and tackling another. I wanted to see them evolve.

The late Chyna, better known as “the 9th wonder of the world” was the eye-opener for me. She was a huge, muscular and pretty woman who was not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone. Male or female and I remember one Saturday as me and my brother watched the program wondering if there would be a time when more women would be allowed to show their might as fighters.

Fast forward to 4 years ago and I’m watching AJ Lee and Paige put on a match that took my breath away. I live for the story-lines and the way the matches develop. I also love when you can see emotions and passion in a match that fit the story being told. This match was perfect for me. When AJ Lee dove off the top of the ropes onto Paige, they instantly became my favourite and just as I did with Chyna, I was front and center whenever they were on TV.

Finally WWE listened and created the ‘Divas Revolution’ that meant more women wrestlers on their shows, this lead to the birth of women being called ‘Superstars’ instead of ‘Divas’ and it also lead to women being featured in the main events of the shows, having more than one match at the pay per views and being seen as more than side pieces but legit fighters in their own right.

Finally the misogynist views of the WWE were crumbling. So can you even begin to imagine my excitement about the upcoming All Women’s Pay Per View on Sunday?

No you cannot. There are a few matches I am beyond ready to watch, including the first ever Last Woman Standing Match with one of the best story-lines WWE has ever had, just because it took over 5 years to properly flesh out and it has not gotten old yet. I can watch Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair go at it for ever- they are part of the four horsewomen of the WWE for a reason.

This pay per view has come a lot faster than anyone could have imagined but it shows that finally the WWE is ready to embrace the emotions and needs of its fan base and the fans themselves are indeed ready to let go of the idea that wrestling is for men only and see the real talent, passion, hard work and sacrifices that both sexes are putting into their careers.

For that alone I hope to see more progression and growth for the industry and more amazing and entertaining matches. The aesthetic on female athletes are changing and the promotion is ‘Yes you can, just be you and never give up’.

Clothes should just be fun : a look at genderless fashion

It was a trend that grew teeth in 2017 and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. Gender neutral or genderless clothes  has hit the industry and just like the ugly sneaker, was endorsed by the who’s who of the fashion royalty.

This year’s Seoul Fashion week, took the concept to even more interesting heights with their layered-up pinstriped blazers, trench coats and checked menswear tailoring that was worn by both men and women.

The Generation Z’ers have spoken and their voices looked to be jackets with D-ring webbing belts, bandoliers of tiny bags, heavy boots with their trousers and striking hair colours, including orange, platinum blonde or straight jet black.

 

Let’s look at what highlighting this trend.

In 2017, gender no longer dictated the way people dressed and it was most noticeable that just as trousers were no longer just for men, skirts were no longer just for women. Fashion designers grew bolder in combining men’s and women’s collections on the runway with many launching gender neutral collections.

These androgynous collections usually featured a mixture of loose fitting suits, slogan T-shirts and tailored jackets that are neither overtly feminine nor masculine.

Wildfang, a street inspired label that launched their own collection, looked at gender as a ‘fairly restrictive concept’ and created more freeing concepts.

“Historically, it has dictated what jobs people can do, how someone can act, how someone can dress and that limits someone’s ability to truly self-express and reach their full potential. Gender-neutral clothing doesn’t force someone into a box. It allows them to self-express exactly how they chose to,” said Wildfang CEO, Emma McIlroy.

Eventhough gender fluidity in fashion may not be as mainstream as it could be, it is slowly and steadily becoming more and more popular with the fashionistas, as the new normal and a lifestyle choice.

The pull for genderless clothes is not about having an agenda for LGBT movement; rather it is about free expression for all.

In this day and age, these clothes are not defined by gender, or have a predetermined demographic, rather the aim is for them to just be worn by people.

The novelty of it all has opened doors for many a designer to unleash their creativity, while allowing the consumer to be free in liking and wearing clothes without the  worry of whether it is for a man or a woman. It is just clothes.

Tanmay Saxena, founder of London-based unisex label LaneFortyfive believes “it’s already very hard to break the metaphorical walls and create equality in the times we live in. I feel unisex clothing is a small but effective way to roll out a line of conversation towards a broader dialogue about equality”.

Stephen Doig, men’s style editor at The Telegraph agrees: “It’s a natural progression in a world where, thankfully, there’s more acceptance of gender fluidity”.

It can be said that with unisex clothes becoming even more mainstream, the easing of gender roles and constructs may follow the trend and become more fluid as well.

Rihanna turns down Super Bowl half time offer

Rihanna has added her name to the list of celebrities standing in support of Colin Kaepernick.  Recently the ‘Work’ singer has declined an offer to headline the coveted Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show, because she did not agree with the NFL’s stance on the kneeling controversy during the national anthem, or the league’s treatment of the quarterback.

Rihanna  who has made a point to be aware of how ethnicity and body type affect ‘living experiences’ in her entrepreneurial ventures, including her makeup line, Fenty Beauty, which has 40 shades and her  lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, which was touted as the most inclusive the New York Fashion Week (NYFW) history by including plus size and pregnant models, has joined a slew of other celebrities who also support Kaepernick, including JAY-Z, Ava DuVernay, Jenifer Lewis and John Legend.

Kaepernick made waves in headlines all over the internet when he first knelt during the national anthem, in an attempt to bring awareness to the far too many instances of police brutality and racial injustices.

However, as the trend caught on and other players also began to take the knee during the national anthem, many criticized the action; misinterpreting it as the players being disrespectful toward the flag as well as the military.

Outrage sparked so quickly that even President Donald Trump getting involved, calling for players who knelt to be fired for the action, which  then lead to the NFL establishing the ‘kneeling ban’.

The former quarter back has not had an easy time following his stance and in spite of his amazing abilities and talents on the field, has failed to be picked up by an NFL team since he opted out of his contract with the San Fancisco 49ers in March 2017.

Since then he has filed a collusion suit against the NFL and team owners claiming that they conspired to shelf him and keep him out of the leagues over his protests.

In September, Kaepernick became the face of Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign spreading the message that is uniquely his, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

This campaign has also seen backlash with many of Nike’s customers who are anti-Kaepernick burning their Nike gear in protest.

None of this has fazed Kaepernick and his supporters, and recently Amy Schumer has also made a call for more people to boycott the NFL and continue the protest police violence against young black men, by taking the knee during the national anthem.

In an instagram post, Schumer wrote “I wonder why more white players aren’t kneeling. Once you witness the truly deep inequality and endless racism people of color face in our country, not to mention the police brutality and murders. Why not kneel next to your brothers? Otherwise how are you not complicit?”

Kaepernick’s former teammate, Eric Reid, returned to the field this season with the Carolina Panthers and continued to protest during the anthem. Reid said he would continue to fight for the rights of African-Americans and other people of color.

Rihanna has reportedly made plans to work with the activist athlete in a ‘fun and powerful way’ that may see Kaepernick featured in a new music video addressing social justice reform.