At UPG, we believe that (young) professionals want to return home after they have completed their studies. But returning home and knowing what steps to take are two different things. As (young) professionals, you had to learn how to live your life in someone else’s country and get used to its culture. For some of you, when you look at where you came from, you have no idea how you will fit back in when you return home.
At UPG, we want you to understand that the confusing feelings that you have are perfectly normal. For this reason, UPG is spending time finding ways to help you understand and overcome the barriers that are stopping you from going home.
In our previous articles, we explained that we are putting our focus on companies because one of the top reasons why you don’t return home is because you don’t know where you will work. And if you can’t work, you won’t have the money to “live your best life” on the islands. So, we want to help you choose a company where you will feel at home. We first started by giving you an overview of what makes a good company. We then headed into, what makes excellent service, and now we are going to go deeper and jump into “What makes a good product?”.
What does my island have going for it?
Your island is a product. To make a difference, it begins with understanding what strengths your island has. We all came from the islands. In many cases, we know what needs to be improved because we see its issues and believe in the potential to enhance them. Now that we are living abroad, we see the islands from a different perspective. You are in an excellent position to see the island where you came from an outsiders view. It’s time for us to use that to our advantage. You are like a tourist and can see why tourists are attracted to your island.
Why is this important?
Because Caribbean islands make most of their money from tourism. The reality of this is, companies on the island cater directly or indirectly to the tourism industry. The islands have a desire to diversify their economies and are making steps in that direction, but at the moment, they are dependant on tourism, mainly from tourists on the island itself. Subconsciously, they think they don’t have another choice. If you look for a company that makes products for tourists, you are most likely going to find a company with lots of potential, and this is where you can make a difference.
How can you, as a young professional, make an impact?
Seeing that companies cater directly or indirectly to the tourism industry, means that there are many open doors when you want to return home. Many businesses need new ideas, for instance, to get them online to sell products via the Internet. Helping companies sell online will allow them to sell products to tourists before they even get to the islands. It also allows a tourist that loves a local product to order it online while they are in their respective countries.
A good example is Sint Maarten has Guavaberry liqueur. If you are living in the Netherlands and would like to purchase a bottle of Guavaberry, you will notice how hard it is to do so when you Google “Guavaberry kopen”. In my case, Google redirected me to a company in Belgium that exports Guavaberry liqueur to the Netherlands. On the one hand, I’m happy I can get my hands on Guavaberry, but on the other, it feels strange not getting that product directly from a company on Sint Maarten.
First point: What can I do?
The first step is understanding what your island’s strengths are. Getting an understanding means that you have to take the time out to attend events where people from your island are active. The more you keep in touch with people from your island, the easier it will be to keep up to date with developments. Being up to date will also help you to see opportunities, and most importantly, it will help you keep in touch with your network at home. So building a network is essential.
At UPG, we spend time on helping our members find out what their passions are. For example, one of our members has an interest in products relating to the environment and sustainability. A better environment and sustainable development contribute to many things, including a better tourism product. These are ideas that are now under construction. So, we will look into ways to helping this member build a network of companies and organisations with similar interests.
We also have other members who see lots of potential in the restaurant industry on the islands, one who has experience in setting up webshops, another who sees things that can be improved in the area of healthcare, another who finds products that connect people with each other and another who sees potential with Sint Maarten developing its own financial products.
The different areas that were listed will help Sint Maarten develop. We encourage you to survey the island to see if someone is already active with an idea that is similar to yours. This way, you look for ways to improve the product that they have, and we can build on each other. There are many more areas that were not listed; these are the areas where you can contribute. We believe that if you create a network of people from our islands, we will keep up to date with what the islands’ strengths are and what they are doing to improve other areas. But remember, nothing happens if you don’t put in the work to do it.
When you have a great idea, it’s your responsibility to make sure it happens.
In part 2, we will discuss the second and third points: investmenting time and realizing what the main product is. Stay tuned!