I’m in Grenada on holiday right now. In 2004 they were smashed by the same Hurricane (Ivan) that went on to hit Cayman. Due to natural disasters as well as global geopolitics a key industry (agriculture) took a devastating hit and is still, fifteen years later, recovering.
By first world standards, it is so easy to look at an island nation like this and only see challenges. However, the entrepreneur in me is reminded of a phrase I heard once that inspired me:
I don’t see challenges, I see opportunities
My own twist on a direct translation from the French of the word Entrepreneur is someone who takes an opening.
I see so many openings one can take in Grenada, so a few thoughts today around that to illustrate entrepreneurial mindset.
Almost as soon as I arrived in Grenada, I started talking to people to listen to understand how the country works culturally and economically, then researching data online.
Within only a few days, I’m seeing opportunity after opportunity to take learnings from my career in the Caribbean and beyond, then, in collaboration with local partners, build businesses and organisations here that would fit closely with my “scale for impact” model.
Now, I may never action any of these opportunities, but it speaks to how an entrepreneurial mind like mine can work!
I have always been a business builder and my mindset tends to be to look for business opportunities in all kinds of places, often synthesising things I’ve learned from building businesses in one country or sector and taking them to another. So, in arriving in a new country and meeting lots of local people and business owners and leaders, am simply fascinated at the opportunities from openings that may exist to build something of Purpose that supports People + Planet and that can also make a Profit so that it can then Scale for more Impact.
For today, let me take you through some initial thinking of an idea..
AirBnB and CBI in Grenada, leading me to see an opportunity
One idea that springs to mind to me is around working with the burgeoning yet nascent AirBnB opportunity in Grenada
There are more than 300 listings on AirBnB currently yet, from my initial (and limited!) it seems that only those properties with more than three rooms are licenced and pay tourism tax and VAT. Furthermore, this is not built into legislation yet, but only an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between AirBnB and Grenada. As such, this is a similar situation that other Caribbean islands have found themselves in, before then adding their own regular requirements for such things as inspections, licencing, taxes etc.
I then looked at the “CBI” (Citizenship by Investment) space in Grenada, one that has resulted in significant increase in airlift (number of flights and so airline seats available), so creating further opportunity for tourism expansion.
Next, in the main town of St Georges and their beaches, I find the beach resort product to be on the one hand low key (and low-rise, no tall buildings), and on the other trying to compete more and more with luxury beach resort products in other destinations (eg Cayman). Quite honestly, I’d find that a tricky space to find a gap in the overall Caribbean marketplace, plus I find the waters muddied by the CBI market, where developers are trying to raise money not only from selling apartments, but also from shares in hotels. To me, with decades of experience in developing as well as raising finance for tourism in the region, these structures raise flags for me around the possibilities of less than totally ethical practices, so I’d stay away from them myself.
So, CBI has led to increased airlift, AirBnB is established but it is still early days yet, St Georges as the main resort area does not feel like a place I’d look at with many market gaps for resort investment.
So, what opportunities do I see? This is just a first blush idea from a few days here, but I’d say I’d focus opportunity on creating a centre for AirBnB private rentals (small houses with great views) in a specific area in the country of Grenada.
I’m not sure of the ideal place, though I already saw the area on the hills outside Sauteurs on the NW tip of the island to be a great spot. Petite Anse is a terrific anchor as a small beachfront hotel, Armadillo guest house and restaurant is where I had one of the best meals I’ve had in many years, plus there are already a number of lovely AirBnB properties right there.
Now, by talking about a centre, I’d perhaps look to set up a central hospitality business that offered to property owners a way to market their area and individual properties (via Airbnb), plus offering services to their properties such as construction management, general maintenance, housekeeping, also stocking properties with food, drink etc for arrival and during their stay, plus perhaps services such as mobile massage, yoga etc.
Once this builds over (I’d say) no more than 2-3 years, the area would become a local magnet for small local businesses to offer more in the way of such services, including bars, cafes, restaurants, car rental, tours etc.
The key here is to take existing properties and, rather than them sitting empty much of the year as holiday homes, turn them into working assets for the owners and as assets to the community and economy as they attract more people.
Ok, so that is idea number one… and how I spend my vacations.
I don’t see challenges, I see opportunities
Also published on Medium.