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JAMAICA: Young Entrepreneur Taps into Online Event Ticket Market

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Kingston, November 27, 2018 – Jamaica – Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Billodex Limited, D’Andre Fraser, has carved out a niche in the online event ticket market.  Through the Billodex app, the company is making it easy and convenient for consumers to purchase tickets for various events from their smartphone using a debit or credit card.  The app is popular among Caribbean and American event organisers.

The 28-year-old tells JIS News that the concept for the company and the app came in 2013, while he was studying for his undergraduate degree at The University of the West Indies (UWI).  Having had experience in events promotion, he says he was aware of the hassles involved in getting tickets for various activities, and wanted to make the process easier.

Developing the business involved a lot of challenges, sacrifices and commitment for D’Andre and his team.  He recalls deciding to spend his summer break on campus so he would have access to a computer to develop his business plan as he did not have a personal device.

“I stayed on hall so I could use the library and create the Billodex business plan and do my readings to assess the feasibility of the business venture.  It was not easy but I was passionate about my vision,” he tells JIS News.

In 2014, having graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Studies and Marketing, D’Andre was ready to go full steam ahead with Billodex, but lacked capital.  He approached the FirstAngelsJA Foundation, which provided start-up funding.

“We didn’t have anything but some JPEG slides, but FirstAngelsJA liked what they saw and believed in our vision. We received the seed money in 2015 and began working on the business structure alongside the advisory board members, Sharon Roper, Aundhrae Richardson, and chairman, Michael Claire,” D’Andre shares.

He says that Billodex can complement Jamaica’s efforts in becoming an entertainment tourist destination because the app provides analytics, real-time updates on ticket sales and online event marketing through connected social media pages.

“The Billodex app is available in the Google Play Store and generates sales lead, therefore resolving the issue of excessive ticket printing,” he points out.

D’Andre adds that through the app, consumers can also purchase add-ons such as event branded merchandise and VIP parking, thus creating additional revenue streams for event organisers.

“We’re trying to expand the business as much as possible and we are already exploring the possibility of selling products online for businesses.  We’ve been approached by Sweetie Confectionery Limited and Herboo Corporation Limited about using Billodex to sell their products,” he discloses.

D’Andre anticipates Billodex becoming as a leader in online payment within the region within the next five years.  He shares that Billodex plans to partner with the non-profit ‘I love MoBay’ foundation in selling merchandise to aid in the entity’s community development and outreach projects.

D’Andre assures that in a world where cybercrimes are a reality, the Billodex app is safe. He says that the 10-step security protocol makes it one of the most secure online purchasing platforms in the region.

For his innovation, D’Andre was nominated for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Youth Award in the field of entrepreneurship.  He tells JIS News that when he first learned of his nomination he was elated, as he has dreamed of receiving the prestigious award since high school.

“Knowing that I am nominated is a very good feeling, just being nominated is a win for me,” Fraser tells JIS News.

He notes that the nomination is a special one not just for him but for his business team and family.

“My mother, who passed away in 2016, was very supportive during the company’s start-up and even served as the company’s first secretary,” he shares.

In that same year, Billodex Limited received the first runner-up prize at Sagicor’s inaugural Imagine Awards, created by the Sagicor Foundation to encourage entrepreneurship among talented Jamaican youth.

Meanwhile, D’Andre’s advice for other young entrepreneurs is to not be afraid of failure.  He notes that failing the first-semester of university and losing two consecutive UWI guild elections has equipped him with the mindset for success.

“At the end of the day, the worse that can happen with failure is that you learn. Every ‘no’ takes you one step closer to a ‘yes’,” he expresses.

He is also encouraging persons to believe in themselves.

“We are greater than we think and we need to realise this and use it to our advantage and market ourselves and our nation,” he says.

 

Release: JIS

Contact: Colleen Dawkins

Photo Caption:  2018 Prime Minister’s Youth Awards nominee for entrepreneurship and co-founder of Billodex Limited, D’Andre Fraser.

 

(Photo: Adrian Walker)​

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bahamas News

Statement From Hon. Fred Mitchell, MP Minister of Foreign Affairs On the Passing of Colin Powell

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#TheBahamas, October 18, 2021 – I learned this morning  of the death of Colin Powell, the American general and diplomat. I worked with him as Foreign Minister in my first term, particularly on issues related to Haiti.

Yesterday in the CARICOM meeting, I recalled while discussing Haiti his role in the crisis of that time. I recall his life, times and work as generally thoughtful and considered. He was also an example of Caribbean success in America, one to emulate. He was the son of Jamaican parents. He was an example of success as a Black man in America. I am saddened by his passing.

On behalf of the Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis, the government and people of The Bahamas, and in my own behalf, I extend condolences to the United States of America and his family.

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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Bahamas News

CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases

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October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at: https://www.carpha.org/Projects/Ongoing-Projects/Strengthening-Strategic-Intelligence-and-Partnership-Approaches-To-Prevent-and-Control-NCDs-and-Strengthen-Regional-Health-Security-In-The-Caribbean

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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