Montserrat

Continued Parental Involvement is Key to Protecting Children online, says Tech Expert

Denzil West - Director of DITES
Denzil West – Director of DITES

BRADES, Montserrat – Online safety of our children should be an extension of the principles and values we use in daily life, says Denzil West, Director of the Government of Montserrat’s Department of Information Technology and eGovernment Services (DITES).

Raising Children in an ICT-Driven World was the topic of Wednesday’s After Work Chat led by West, who is also a member of the National ICT Council, the host of the ICT Week activities, which began on Monday November 10, 2014.

“Safety in the online world is not much different from the “real” world. The digital world is a new way for our children to be exposed to danger,” he told the group gathered at The Lyme. “What is different is the ubiquitous nature where they are connected to multiple devices everywhere you turn.”

Now that homes have gone from one computer in a central space where parents could keep an eye on what children were doing, to laptops, tablets, and smartphones which children can take to their bedrooms, it is important that parents have an agreement on how the devices are to be used, suggested the speaker.

“We still need to be able to tell our children to put down the tablet or phone. We can’t blame the technology when we are the ones who allow them access to it. Parents must be involved in what they are doing,” said the father of three. “Make internet time about family, discovery and interaction.”

The director said what they recognized with the introduction of the secondary school’s laptop programme in 2012 was that the parents didn’t understand the technology and so students were able to take hold of the computer, get administration access and block their parents from using it.

West encouraged the group to force themselves and to push parents and teachers to understand the technology so they could have control of it. “When we asked for parents to pay a portion of the cost of the laptop it was so they had a stake in it and would claim ownership of it.”

He added that with the advent of social media, parents need to know who their children’s online friends are, recognize it is possible to be cyberbullied and what that means, and have clear rules as to how they are to behave online and when they have access. “Just as in the past your parents had to know who the parents of your friends were, it is still necessary in the virtual world.”

West shared several templates of online contracts which parents can use as the basis of agreements with their children to define the rules of their behavior on the internet. “At what age do you give your child free access and no longer need to know their passwords? What are they allowed to post online? Children must be aware that not only shouldn’t they post nude or other compromising photos online but that with geotagging, it is possible for someone to find out exactly where they live and become a real danger to them.”

The expert said the new modems with integrated wifi routers now offer parental controls which can be enabled to filter and block children from accessing certain websites and setting cut off times when their devices will no longer have internet access. “Every device has a unique identifier called a MAC Address and so without taking the device away from your child before bed at night, you can control how long and what they can access on the internet.”

West said it was important that parents have solid relationships with their children offline in order for the same practices to be extended into a digital world.

Dr. Samuel Joseph reflected for children today there is no longer a difference between what is the digital and offline world, and it was critical they recognize that whatever goes on the internet stays on the internet.

Youth Officer Loni Howe agreed, noting that employers on island were now using the internet and Facebook to check whether they wanted to hire a young person and negative online behavior was now playing a major role in whether they were able to get a job.

The audience was admonished to find out where their children went online and to understand the technology so they wouldn’t be bamboozled.

This is the first year that the National ICT Council in partnership with the Ministry of Communications & Works is hosting ICT Week. Activities close out on Friday, November 14 with the school poster competition.

How Many Customers Does Your Business Really Need?

No one is buying?

The market’s just not big enough.

Our population is too small.

All of these are comments I hear regularly from business owners and people considering starting a business on Montserrat.

black-business-ownerWhile there is truth to all of the above statements, often we generalize and take on other people’s assumptions without testing them for ourselves.

Consider no one is buying. Are you running a business where you need people to purchase your service daily or can one good sale per week set you right and meet your monthly sales goals? Evaluate what your daily, weekly and monthly sales targets need to be and then evaluate your systems with those figures in mind. If you do require daily sales then what promotions or changes can you make to improve how your customers engage with your product or services? Maybe you are not advertising enough or not advertising on the media platforms or in the locations where your customers are.

The market’s just not big enough. Montserrat (5000) is one of the smallest markets in the region and while many think that is the case, places such as Saba (1800+) and St. Eustatius (3000+) have even smaller populations. Again look at your market. Do you need all 5000 people on Montserrat to keep you in business? Even if you did, could you meet the demand? The better plan would be to look at your sales targets and ensure they cover your expenses and a reasonable profit. How many people would need to purchase your cleaning or accounting service this month?

If your goal was 10,000 per month then evaluate your pricing packages. How many private homes would you need to clean monthly to reach that goal? How many businesses would it take to reach the target? If you have support then maybe it can be done by taking on more private homes or increasing the fees for servicing businesses.

Our population is just too small. Small gives you the opportunity to be unique and create a premium and quality product. If you look around and see everyone doing the same thing, then it does not make sense to follow the trend. All of you will be competing with the same products in the same space. Rather, find a way to position your products and services in the market so you stand out. Develop unique products, offer exceptional service, personalize your offerings to keep customers coming back.

Rather than listening to the voices around you who are often only repeating what they’ve heard from others, do you own research and listen to your inner expert.

Use the Start a Business in 5 Days Workbook to help you develop your market and sales strategy.

Inbetween MCAP and PDM are Montserrat’s Real Needs

The date has been set for Montserrat’s elections – September 11, 2014. I won’t get into a discussion of the date and whether it is a good or bad omen as that is neither here nor there. What is clear is that both the incumbent government, the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) and the upstart People’s Democratic Movement Montserrat (PDM) have about four weeks to help a critical group make a decision.

The social media and barber shop noise would make you believe that the election is already decided but that is far from the truth. There is a group of undecided voters who can shift this election in a major way. They are educated, employed and empowered with the right to vote and a passion to see Montserrat do well. The lives of their children depend on it.

Neither party has yet been able to convince this group that they can get the job done. I don’t have exact numbers on this group but from discussions online and within the community, I recognize it is more than either party would care to admit.

PDM is presenting a campaign which is grand on plans but short on an execution strategy. In my mind’s eye I see them with constant outstretched hands to the British in the same way they’ve shown us Montserratians with hands outstretched wanting more but without an idea of how they can do more for themselves. Their messaging sounds as if they’ve got a direct line to the UK’s purse and blank checks will be handed over to spend at will.

There is no acknowledgement that the UK has consistently been speaking out of both sides of its mouth and we’ve got to make a decision as a nation of how we will deal with it.

“We want to help you be self-sufficient,” their officials say.

“Great we need a new port about this wide,which can help us attract increased cruise tourism and cargo shipping so we can be on our own faster.”

“Oh no, no. It won’t take all that…How about one yay high? Not as many boats but it will be better than what you have now,” is the suggestion/recommendation/edict.

“But sir, great sir that would mean you would have to keep sending us money. Aren’t we supposed to be working to be on our own?

And this back and forth continues on every project. Every time we say this is what we need, they say it “doesn’t take all of that.” Every time they say do it this way, next year a new policy and strategy with the compulsory consultations and economic impact assessments take us back to the drawing board.

The years go by and we can’t see progress because we are constantly on the drawing board and shifting people and money around, neither of which is adequate for the job at hand. We are fearful of breaking the rules which they keep changing and so we stay trapped. Wanting freedom but without the courage to make the tough decisions which will get us to a tomorrow where we can fly solo.

PDM’s strategy sounds like it will have us breastfeeding for years to come. We are almost 20-years-old post volcano and still the overwhelming message is to keep sucking for as long as they will let us.

MCAP has been assertive in its push to be more self-sufficient. They authorized the taking down of a mountain as a symbol of future intentions to build a port despite the fact no investors had come on board. The intention seems to wean the nation from milk but they haven’t presented an alternative to the milk.

They call for patience for that great day when the port is built, new town is open and we have a major hotel property. But what about now when even civil servants are asking for one-off support from social services? Is it alright for a few to benefit now, while everyone else waits for the Sweet By-and-By? That can never be right. Some may not live to see this bright future. Others may opt for the bright lights of a city if it means they can have the benefits now.

So,how do we get from here to there?

How do we get to walking and running on our own from the current position of being carried?

How do you shift a nation of people who live as if shell-shocked and unwilling to shine, to one which is proudly offering its gifts to the world?

Do we invest large sums of a very limited resource to buy medical equipment which we may not need more than three times a year or uplevel our visiting specialists program so that more people can benefit from the regular visits of doctors giving their services at little or no cost to Montserrat?

Do we settle for a miniscule port which limits us in the way our airport does now?

Do we keep engorging a civil service which has no enforced penalties and benefits for unsatisfactory work or exemplary performance?

Do we increase our social benefits to encourage more government dependency or provide more ways to empower our people to create jobs? Is it as simple as either or?

Do we add a new round of public policies which contradict each other when it comes to execution?

Is it possible to have a local government that truly looks after the needs of each physical community while considering the cultural dynamics of the various nationals now resident here?

Which party is offering solutions which show innovation and understanding of how we can get what we need while fully participating in a global marketplace?

Somewhere in the middle of MCAP’s plans and PDM’s dreams lies the needs of the people who have the power to decide on the next government for Montserrat.

10 Questions with International Soca Artist Scrappy

Scrappy live at O2
Scrappy live at O2 (UK Soca Scene Photo)

Born Garvin Johnson, Scrappy has been performing now for more than 20 years starting out as a calypsonian in the mid 90s on Montserrat. We asked him 10 questions on lessons learned as an entrepreneur and entertainer.

1. Where/who do you get your work ethic from?

Scrappy: I am very optimistic so my work ethic comes from that. I am always considering the possibility of success on the next level so I always have a new aim or target and find ways to better what I’ve done.

2. When did you decide that you wanted to focus on Soca and do it full-time?

Scrappy: From 2005 when I came to Montserrat and saw the love and support I got with my debut album. I realized that this is where I want to be.

3. What jobs have you done while trying to build your music career?

Scrappy: Well I teach music. Also I used to work at a Pizza Hut delivery service and Virgin Megastore.

4. Tell me about the creation of Tropical Storm. How does having your own band change the soca game for you and how you show up on stage?

Scrappy
Scrappy live at O2 (UK Soca Scene Photo)

Scrappy: Tropical Storm is a Caribbean band by that I mean mixed cultures and music ideas. Having my own band makes me more flexible on stage in terms of performances. CD’s limit you.

5. What are some of the challenges of doing soca on the European scene?

Scrappy: Exposing it to new territories and have to explain what soca is and all the work that comes with it. Plus the EU market is still new to soca so you need to be detailed about planning how and when you do stuff in the various countries.

  6. What kind of money can you make for gigs across the countries? Which ones pay more?

Scrappy: Well the money is based on you as a brand/product. Just as different tablets sell for different prices because of the quality of the brand so making money is down to how you build your brand. It varies.

7.Money secrets that you learned the hard way.

Scrappy: Always make sure that you can cover running (operating) costs. We always over look the bills that needs to be paid to make the money.

8. Talk about the new music project. How long does it take you to write before hitting the studio or does it happen when you go in and listen to rhythms? Talk us through the process.

Scrappy: Well I get the music first then vibe off that but in rare occasions I make a vibe up then put music to it. Writing isn’t hard though. My mother had me reading a lot in school and now I realise how that helps me to write and express myself.

9. Which artists have you worked with and admire their work ethic? Who would you like to work with?

Scrappy: Well I more work with producers than artists. Artists now are so focused on building themselves that it’s hard to get anyone so easy but I like SD Productions, Daddy Willo and Junez.

10. Your one core belief about music? Your core belief about business? Your core belief about what you can do in the world.

Scrappy:

On MusicAlways keep in mind you will cross paths again with the people you have met. The small promoter now can be the big promoter tomorrow.

On Business – Build your brand and product. Learn and know your competition and always think that what you can achieve they can also so that way you never underestimate other people.

On the World – Well I have this idea that we are all connected in the world. It sounds crazy BUT if I for instance get bad news, and I share it with someone form Montserrat they might be sad because I am sad, then they will share that with someone in America and then my sadness has now affected someone in America and it goes on and on. So for what I can do in the world is teach love. Sometimes we just need to be the one person who started it and it spreads. ?

jam up on somebody coverConnect with Scrappy:
Email: garvin@jmediagroup.co.uk

Website:www.scrappyonline.net 

Twitter:www.twitter.com/scrappyonline

Facebook:www.facebook.com/scrappyonline
Soundcloud:www.soundcloud.com/scrappyonline

Digital Platform for Caribbean Luxury Brands Launched

Caribbean&CoLONDON/CARIBBEAN – The Caribbean’s lifestyle and luxury brands now have an exclusive home online at www.caribbeanandco.com, where they can be discovered, explored and engaged.

The new digital platform named Caribbean & Co. is the brainchild of digital marketing and public relations consultant Ursula Petula Barzey of Moxee Marketing (based in the United Kingdom) who saw the need for a space where established and up and coming Caribbean brands from 15 lifestyle sectors can promote their products and services and gain exposure in the multi-billion dollar luxury market.

“On average there are more than one million monthly searches on Google for information related to the Caribbean region. Travel searches lead, but an increasing percentage are looking for information about other Caribbean lifestyle sectors such as art & design, health & beauty, food & drinks, music, fashion, property & investment and sports,” revealed Barzey. “Caribbean & Co. is a digital space where brands can engage with customers who are looking for authentic Caribbean luxury goods and experiences.”

Ursula Barzey - MoxeeAccording to Barzey’s research, more than 37 million people have used Facebook to express an interest or liked Pages (brands) related to the Caribbean. This shouldn’t be a surprise as 25 million people visited the Caribbean region in 2013 and fuelled by the accommodation’s sector spent US$28 billion dollars.*

Barzey’s motivation and inspiration to launch the site came about after working on the marketing campaign to promote the 50th anniversary of Montserrat’s Annual Festival and her belief that many of the region’s finest offerings are underexposed and unable to engage with a highly defined group of consumers who are interested in the Caribbean and for whom exceptional quality matters.

“I wanted to create a virtual space that expresses what I feel the Caribbean does better than everyone else: an awe-inspiring colour palette, invigorating sporting events and celebrations, luxury and tranquillity when you need it most.”

Barzey goes on to reveal that “Caribbean & Co. offers a comprehensive suite of digital content marketing opportunities to Caribbean brands – the lead product being the ONLINE PROFILE with premium and elite packages enabling clients to showcase their products and services using descriptive language, engaging images, videos, news articles, reviews and offers – all of which we are confident will lead to exposure, more traffic to their websites, leads and sales.”

Brands can also take advantage of the FREE online profile option and the press release distribution service to more than 1800 media contacts across the globe that cover the Caribbean region.

Visit Caribbean & Co. at www.caribbeanandco.com. Use the CaribbeanAndCo handle to find Caribbean & Co. on top social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.