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Havana-na-na-na

In 2017, I spent 5 days in Cuba on a whirlwind vacation with my older brother. The trip was the perfect mix of adventure and culture as I left the United States and ventured to a country far less traveled than popular, warm European destinations.

Arriving in Cuba was part of the adventurous vibe I love in my travel experiences. My flight departed at sunrise from Washington, D.C. with a short layover in Atlanta before moving on to Havana. In Atlanta, I purchased a visa, or “tourist card,” under the “Education: People to People” category at the departure gate and excitedly sat on the airplane waiting for the short flight that I had been told would practically take me back in time. I was ready for the place I had read about—one that is “frozen in time” with the 1950s cars, no internet access, no ATMs or credit cards, and a commercial-free atmosphere.

The first day consisted of a series of trials that I encountered primarily because I have never traveled in an age without cell phones or the internet. After going through customs in the Havana airport, I had the pleasure of my first bartering experience with an airport cab driver. He spoke only enough English to cover for my poor Spanish, but I managed to negotiate a ride to the area of my “casa.” Locals open up their homes and sell bedrooms to tourists looking for an inexpensive place to stay. I found a suitable “casa” on AirBnB but soon found it was nearly impossible to locate with the address provided and the internet connection in Cuba was too poor to message the host.

For the next 7 hours, while waiting for AirBnB’s assistance, I spent time in Habana Vieja, or Old Havana, exploring the sites. Plaza de San Francisco, El Capitolio, and Plaza Vieja were some of my favorites to check out. They were perfect places to see Cuban architecture, as well as people watch, to get a vibe for the city. During dinner, AirBnB managed to connect me with my host, and I was able to make my way to my casa for the evening. The cool air-conditioned room in the back of Maykel’s home was incredible after the warm July weather I had experienced all day.

The next day was an early wake-up call to catch a shared taxi to Trinidad. I spent just a day in the beautiful town located in central Cuba. There’s a ton to do with easy access to the beach, or “la playa,” incredible foliage, and beautiful natural waterfalls. In addition to a cute town with live jazz music, I spent time with a local guide horseback riding to and from the natural waterfall and grabbing beers, or cervezas, on rooftops.

When I headed back to Havana for my last few days, I had a few things still left on my list: take a ride in a 1950s car, drink mojitos at La Floridita, listen to jazz at a local spot, and eat traditional Cuban food. I managed to check everything off the list before hopping back on the plane to D.C.

Cuba isn’t a traditional destination, but if you’re looking for something unique, consider it for your next adventure! The experiential nature of this vacation was unparalleled. I learned more about flexibility in travel during my time in Cuba than I ever have before. Being disconnected from the internet and technology provides real opportunity to seek out a connection with locals and the culture and lives they have built.

 

Barbados Journal Nov 2018

I now have a rooster. Our gardener brought him to us to protect our hens. But he doesn’t give the normal cock-a-doodle-doo when the sun rises, instead he crows at 3am and it sounds more like err-accck-er- errr.  Although scrawny, he is a proud and ambitious rooster. He is scared of just about everything in the yard, but chases the young hens incessantly and pecks at them if they get too close to his food. I’ve tried to tell him to be gentle with them, but he is consumed with the arrogance and vigour of his youth.

The hens are maturing nicely, no longer cute little chicks they are growing feathers and their own personalities. There is a natural leader I’ve named Delilah, she is always first out of the hen-house in the morning. For fun she chases the mourning doves around the yard, and when the rooster (I’ve named Doug) gets too aggressive with the other hens, she will come to their rescue and get a few good pecks in at him.  The others hens tolerate Delilah because they need a leader, but her exuberance for life upsets their conventionalism.

I bought my first car with a right-hand side steering wheel.  It’s a pea-green Kia Soul and there are only a handful on the island. We discovered that one belongs to the math teacher at our kids school .   We call him Captain Holt because he reminds us of the character on the t.v. show Brooklyn99. He likes things just so and always parks his car perfectly between the lines on the tarmac. For some reason my husband and I have had the same desire to park our car directly beside his whenever we come into the school parking lot. They look so cute together and I’m trying to think of ways to amp it up a bit. Thinking of getting them matching outfits, maybe a bow for one and tie for the other. I’m a bit worried I’ll run out of ideas, but the kids are a great help. 

Barbados is filled with so many stories and so much beauty. When you turn a corner you never know what you might find. To date we’ve come across: a huge pit in the middle of the road that was later filled with a mound of rocks; a goat; a breathtaking view of the Atlantic ocean, a drunken man wielding a machete getting slapped in the head by an old man who took away the large knife and sent him on his way, oh and some adorable puppies.  In the parking lot of the grocery store I stood in awe while watching  the magnificent frigate birds soar and diving into the ocean. 

 

The beauty of the morning sun on a field glistening with dew can take your breath away. And the sunsets that stretch over the sky, painting it shades of red and orange that move over the clouds has become our evening television.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away from Toronto politics. The pecking order there reminds me of the hens in my yard – those who challenge the status quo are natural leaders in turbulent times, and they withdraw when times are calm. But there are always predators who circle in the shadows feeding off the droppings. Going 2000 miles away has put things into perspective, from a distance Toronto is much smaller.

The tourists have started to come to the island. The main beach highway is now busy and the grocery store is filled with people wearing bathing suits and flip flops. They seem so incongruous in a country where sleeveless blouses aren’t allowed in government buildings. The radio ads that promote the tourism industry repeatedly telling people that roads, water and yes even the air we breath “is tourism” have, thankfully, stopped. I was hoping the grocery stores might get a bit more consistent in what they offer, one week you can buy lettuce but then it’s gone for the next two.  I haven’t found green beans in 2 weeks but did find some President’s Choice salsa this week. Although with Tostito’s scoops priced at $23.95 a bag, it’ll have to stay in the jar until the local nachos appear on the shelves again.   I’m hoping there might be real cranberry juice instead of the sugar filled juice blends – but I know that might be a stretch.

The art-eco centre boutique hotel project I’m working on is being met with so much support and positive feedback that I was a bit surprised. One large plantation owner offered to give his 400-acre plantation as an investment in the project – but alas it has not ocean views!   I have found that the people here are well educated and want to build their community. Like Canada there is a mix of many cultures and the local Bajans embrace them all. Although people recognize the economic importance of tourism there is a desire to push Barbados beyond being completely dependent on it. 

I’m learning what it is like to be an “expat.” You become part of a community of people all adjusting to a way of life that is quite unique and different than what many are accustomed to. Everything here is slower, and some people let that frustrate them. The rural lifestyle blends into the urban areas – so that you can drive down the main highway  and see a cow feeding in the ditch between the warehouse and the road. Or walk along a busy street among people – and chickens.  Expats choose to be here, and unlike living where you were born that choice inspires more commitment. I’ve also found that expats are in the most part friendly, positive and adventurous people.

Every Tuesday there is a party at the local rum shop just down the hill from us. We sit by the pool listening to the crickets and whistling frogs, and can hear the music wafting up to us. They play old 70s songs, Rupert Holmes – If you like Pina Colodas, and now John Denver – Take me Home Country Roads. The words make me think about all the roads I have travelled and I realize that home isn’t one place, it is the space that Greg and I create with our family and friends.

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.”

 

 

4 Tools for Handling Loss, and Gaining Resilience

Women’s resilience always seems to be tested; from doing the bulk of the care giving for children, families, and elders, being the multi-taskers, the nurturers, the drill sergeants and the compassion experts. It is any wonder that this leads to reporting higher stress levels than men do?

Resilience comes from a Latin word meaning to leap back or rebound. My own resilience was tested in the last decade during a series of hard losses – my dad and husband, who died within three months of each other, followed by my mom, my dog, and my only sibling.

As a psychologist, but also as someone doing lots of caregiving during this time and coping with grief, I had to develop a set of skills to increase my resilience. These four tools helped me better handle the losses and the stress:

  1. Engage in Meditation

Some believe that meditation may be the single most important tool for increasing resilience. A regular practice of meditation changes the brain, enhances the immune system, and induces a faster recovery from life stressors. Meditation induces calm and decreases ruminative thinking. Whether it’s a meditation that focuses on breath, or a mantra word like “Peace,” engaging in a bit of daily meditation makes a huge difference in being able to rebound from a challenging situation.

  1. Practice Self Care

Self-care involves paying attention to three important things that impact the body and moods: sleep, exercise, and nutrition. These three factors go hand in hand – one has a synergistic effect on the other. Sleep rests the brain and reboots the immune system. Lack of sleep results in being more prone to illness and just plain grumpy!

It also impacts the gut, and most people usually reach for junk food,- which impacts brain and guts functioning- when sleep deprived rather than healthier foods such as fresh fruits, vegetable and nuts. Exercise or some form of daily movement, like walking, biking, swimming, or dancing, helps with better sleep, reduces appetite, enhances the immune system, and releases hormones that help feelings and mood states more positive.

Lack of sleep or proper nutrition and exercise, sabotages the mental and physical well-being as well as the ability to rebound from stress.

  1. Recover and Recharge

It’s not enough to try and endure a stressful experience, as you develop resilience. Instead the focus must be on how to recharge in order to bounce back and move forward. Being in constant action is damaging to both body and mind, not to mention the spirit! When encountering a stressor, it’s important to take stress breaks or recovery periods that allow the time and space to heal, just like a runner does between training runs. Without these recovery periods, resilience doesn’t have a chance to grow.

  1. Find Social Support

Chronic loneliness (not to be confused with “alone time” or “me time”) increases the levels of stress hormones circulating in the body, and also impairs decision-making and problem-solving skills, which are often critical when faced with loss and life stressors. From birth, you are hard-wired to have several close confidantes with whom they entrust your secrets and worries.

This is a particularly important tool in healing from loss because grief can feel so isolating. Joining a support group, or seeing a therapist is a great initial step in combating loneliness and finding a safe place to share your concerns. Finding a tribe of likeminded people, whether it’s joining a yoga class, a hobby group, a book club, or a sports team is also a great idea. Rumi says: “There’s a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard, they cannot hope. It is this: Look as long as you can at the friend that you love.”

The next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, remember these seeds of resilience, and recall that in a garden, a healthy seed grows into a beautiful plant. Even though the plant may get assailed from time to time by blustering winds and heavy rains, the plant can bounce back and still survive, often blooming more beautifully than before.

Sherry Cormier, PhD is a psychologist, consultant and public speaker. Formerly on the faculty at the University of Tennessee and West Virginia University, she is the author of Counseling Strategies and Interventions for Professional Helpers (Pearson Education, 9th edition) and coauthor of Interviewing and Change Strategies for Helpers (Cengage Learning, 8th edition). She has cowritten and coproduced more than 50 training videos for Cengage Learning. Her new book is Sweet Sorrow: Finding Enduring Wholeness After Loss and Grief(Rowman & Littlefield).

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Weed supply low following post-legalization in Canada

Canada is quickly becoming one of the top underrated places to travel. After the recent legalization of marijuana, there is a whole new industry that has cropped up related to weed. Everything from herbal remedies to baked goods have emerged as secondary markets in the region. There is even a prolific market for weed based dog treats to cure pet-anxiety. The traditional dispensary is quickly evolving to keep up with market demand.

Vancouver is an interesting example of this scenario. There are currently more illegal dispensaries than there are Starbucks outlets in the city. You can buy a coconut-chocolate-weed infusion just as easily as you would a ChocoMocca latte here.

The government is trying its best to curb the black market in the space, which is estimated to be close to 5 Billion CAD. That market is a large one to disrupt, leading many to believe that supply needs to outgrow demand for the product.

Canada’s doing all it can to curb the market, empowering hundreds of unarmed inspectors to shut down dispensaries on the spot. This can rapidly change the black market and make it redundant in the future.

The real problem is the lack of quality supply to keep up with rising demand. That’s why customers opt for tax-free (and often cheaper) black market alternatives. With increased regulation, the black market may possibly shrink over time.

Toronto saw 5 illegal dispensaries being shut down a few days after the law went into effect. Many other cities are following suit. The flip-side of the picture is the irregularity with which licenses are being provided. For growers who were generating income illegally, there are few ways of applying for a legal license.

This opens up the market for outside growers to enter Canada and create a legal brand in the growing economy. The problem for the residents lies in the habit of calling up your local dealer. It’s simpler than having to visit a dispensary and not knowing whether it is legal or not. Since you already have a relationship established with the dealer, you won’t want to experiment outside of that network.

What are the dispensaries doing about it? Not much as it turns out.  Only $180,000 of the $3 Million worth of fines issued was paid so far. Dispensaries are waiting for consumer trends to evolve and for government to relax these rules. Legislation was only the first step. Now comes a host of new challenges which involve increased investment in inspections.

Finally, the licensing fees can range anywhere between $500 to $30,000 depending on the state and the type of operation you’re running. This is also indicative of how each state wants to manage the industry from within. That’s another impediment for black market dealers to turn towards the legal route.

With decreased red tape, increased accessibility and assistance, the industry can grow many times over. With Canada running out of legal marijuana this year, next year seems brighter than before. In conclusion, there is a market out there ready to expand but it needs legal clarification and assistance across the board.

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.