SXM Youth Entrepreneurs Venture to Atlanta with Islandpreneur

July 25, 2023 11:22 am

Ministry of Finance & U.S. Consulate joined delegation to build strategic relationships

[Great Bay, Sint Maarten] - The winners of the National Youth Pitch Competition, Upcycl and young entrepreneur Giomara Olivacce, embarked on an enriching journey to Atlanta, participating in the inaugural Islandpreneur Summer Entrepreneurial Exchange (ISEE) program. Representing Milton Peters College, Isaiah Peterson, Jael Jong a Lock, and Kymora Reed and winner of the International Youth Entrepreneurship Program (2021) spent a week in Atlanta learning about its entrepreneurial ecosystem, meeting with founders and investors, and exploring the uniqueness of Atlanta through a variety of curated attractions.

A city known as the business nucleus of Southeast USA, Atlanta boasts over 40 innovation hubs and houses global giants like Delta, Coca-Cola, and BitPay. Its rich entrepreneurial environment made it a perfect fit for this exchange, offering participants the chance to glean insights from experts and establish global business strategies.

The week-long itinerary, which took place between July 10-15, included meetings with Atlanta's city officials, interactions with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Invest Atlanta, and visits to major incubators such as ATDC, Atlanta Tech Village and Russel Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (RICE). As the creative industries is a key opportunity for entrepreneurial growth, the delegation also visited the Creative Media Industries Institute and saw a live pitch training with Create X.

Led by Islandpreneur, the delegation included the Minister of Finance, Ardwell Irion and the U.S. Mission to the Dutch Caribbean representatives, Kristin Lundberg, Consul in charge of Political, Economic, and Public Affairs and Sady El Hage, Public Affairs Officer. These two partners were instrumental to engage in strategic conversations focused on collaboration for economic growth and prosperity between for St. Maarten and by extension the Dutch Caribbean with the city of Atlanta.

The U.S. Mission supported this exchange by engaging with subnational diplomacy efforts with the City of Atlanta to arrange most of the meetings and activities. Among other things, the Minister of Finance, was able to have strategic conversations concerning fintech solutions, potential investment opportunities for entrepreneurs, and professional development options with key industry players. Atlanta is known as the global leader in fintech solutions and provides some of the country’s top programs.

One of the standout moments was the team's engagement with young Atlanta-based entrepreneurs at Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurship (RICE). The delegation met Mason Wright (16), the owner of a gourmet hotdog enterprise, Zoe Oli (10), CEO of Beautiful Curly Me, one of RICE’s top earning businesses, and 10-year-old author, Bailey Edwards, who emphasized the potency of affirmations for youngsters.

This inaugural exchange program was an enormous success and made possible by official partners Ministry of Finance, U.S. Consulate General in Curacao, Computech, St. Maarten Development Fund, TelEm Group and contributors, CIBC FirstCaribbean, BDO, and Master Fixers.

Applications for the 2nd Annual National Youth Pitch Competition will commence on August 21, 2023. Secondary schools are invited to participate. Further details can be obtained by emailing