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ExxonMobil Approves Whiptail Development, Guyana Set to Boost Oil Capacity

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Fri. April 12, 2024: ExxonMobil has greenlit the Whiptail development offshore Guyana, marking its sixth project on the Stabroek block. Anticipated to enhance daily capacity by 250,000 barrels by 2027, the decision follows necessary government and regulatory nods.

Liam Mallon, President of ExxonMobil Upstream Company, lauded the move, underscoring the company’s strategic partnership with the Guyanese government. With a $12.7 billion investment, Whiptail envisages up to 10 drill centers and 48 production and injection wells.

Mallon emphasized ExxonMobil’s commitment to local community development, pledging support for sustainable initiatives across Guyana. The cumulative impact of Stabroek block operations has already seen significant economic uplift, with over $4.2 billion channeled into the Guyana Natural Resource Fund since 2019.

Moreover, the project boasts a substantial local workforce, with 6,200 Guyanese employees contributing to operations, representing 70% of the total workforce. ExxonMobil’s investment in local suppliers has surpassed $1.5 billion since 2015, further bolstering Guyana’s economic resilience.

The Whiptail project aligns with the ongoing expansion of Guyana’s oil infrastructure, with the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel Jaguar currently in construction. This adds to the three FPSOs already operational offshore, each producing over 600,000 barrels of oil per day. Construction is underway for FPSOs dedicated to the Yellowtail and Uaru projects, slated to commence production in 2025 and 2026 respectively.

What The Caribbean Is Missing According To The World Bank

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 12, 2024: The Caribbean is missing on two fronts according to the World Bank in its latest economic review and assessment of the region and Latin America.

The World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, William Maloney.

According to the 2024 report, “Competition: The Missing Ingredient for Growth?,” both the Caribbean and Latin America are missing on the competition front. According to the Bank’s analysts, “low competition makes consumers pay higher prices for lower-quality goods and services, reducing overall welfare, and contributes to higher inequality, as monopoly prices on essential goods and services consume relatively more of the budgets of poorer households.”

Analysts recommended increasing the competition in order to stimulate growth and improve consumer welfare.

“Competition from low-cost consumer imports can help raise the standard of living of families across the income spectrum. Competition also has the power to nudge domestic producers into adopting new products and technologies, improving productivity at the firm level,” states the report. “The global integration of markets has contributed to more competitive environments, facilitating the diffusion and adoption of innovations that enhance efficiency. At the same time, competing in dynamic and challenging domestic markets is the best way for firms to prepare for exporting.”

Meanwhile , the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, William Maloney, also said the Caribbean is lagging behind when it comes to data needed to track not only the performances of the respective economies but labour market indicators among others.

“Getting good data on the Caribbean remains a major challenge,” Maloney said.

ICT Scholarships Now Available For Black Diaspora

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 12, 2024: Invest Caribbean has again partnered with the Elizabeth Sloane Institute of Technology to promote ICT scholarships to the Black Diaspora.

The commitment of the Elizabeth Sloane Institute of Technology to enhancing the skills of ICT professionals who identify as members of the Black diaspora has been extended with the approval of this year’s scholarship round, amounting to over $4.6 million.

Building upon the success of previous initiatives, the institute aims to provide opportunities for individuals across the globe to upskill in vital areas such as AI, Cybersecurity, and Data Science.

In 2023, Elizabeth Sloane Institute of Technology awarded more than 620 scholarships focused on cybersecurity across English-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. This year, the program has been expanded to include applicants from around the world. The significant investment is aimed at addressing the global skills shortage in crucial technology fields while fostering the advancement of ICT professionals within the black diaspora.

Melanie Wynter, Director of Elizabeth Sloane, emphasized the importance of the program, stating: “This initiative will not only strengthen global defenses against cybercrime but also empower black ICT professionals to excel in an industry that greatly values their expertise.”

The scholarship program offers four distinct funding opportunities, covering over 70% of the costs of industry-recognized (ISC)² cybersecurity certifications such as CISSP, CCSP, and SSCP over a 12-month period, as well as Online Self-Paced STEM Master’s Degree programs. These awards include the Kusi P. Adu-Amankwah “Lex Stella” Award, the Lauryn C. Poyser Award, the Homegrown Alliance Award, and the C. Courtney Jackson Award.

This initiative comes at a crucial juncture, with cybercrime projected to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2023 and a predicted shortage of 3.5 million cybersecurity professionals globally.

Gawayne Beckford, Member Academic Council of Elizabeth Sloane Institute of Technology, highlighted the significance of supporting the upskilling of black ICT professionals, citing the visible impact of the skills gap in regions served by the institute across Africa and the Caribbean.

The application process is straightforward and open to the public, with a submission deadline of May 15th, 2024.

For further details or to apply, interested individuals can @esitedu, Linktree or contact in**@es*****.com.

Additionally, applications for the Lauryn C. Poyser Scholarship are currently being accepted. With a projected 32% increase in cybersecurity job opportunities by 2032, now is an opportune moment to pursue advanced education or transition careers. Apply today to explore Master’s Degrees and Professional Development Programs at Elizabeth Sloane Institute of Technology before the May 15th, 2024 deadline. All individuals who identify as members of the Black diaspora are eligible to apply at https://esitedu.com/student-register/

Queens Caribbean Restaurant Makes NY Times Top 100 List

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April 5, 2024: A Caribbean restaurant in Queens, NY has made the New York Times Top 100 list for 2024.

The Trinciti Roti Shop of 11-03 Lefferts Boulevard in Ozone Park, Queens, logged a high 18th place on the list. The author, Pete Wells, lauded the restaurant for it Trini chicken curry doubles, aloo pies and bake and shark. Other items on the menu includes sada roti, buss up shot roti, phoulorie and lots of other curries to choose from, including vegan curries. Wash it all down with your choice of local drinks, including sorrel, mauby, and peanut punch.

“I treat Trinciti as a destination of its own, worth a separate trip,” he wrote.

The restaurant has received tons of reviews with 4,764 reviews on Google, 3,640 on GrubHub.

Customer Support Outsourcing Dominican Republic: PITON-Global – Tech-Driven Front- and Back-Office CX

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. April, 5, 2024: In today’s fast-paced business environment, where exceptional customer experience (CX) is the cornerstone of success, companies are increasingly turning to outsourcing as a strategic solution to enhance both front- and back-office operations. The Dominican Republic, with its strategic location, multilingual workforce, and robust technological infrastructure, has emerged as a key destination for customer support outsourcing. Leading this transformative wave is PITON-Global, an esteemed advisory firm that is redefining customer care, both in the front and back-office, through innovative, tech-driven outsourcing solutions in the Dominican Republic.

PITON-Global’s expertise lies in its ability to bridge the gap between businesses seeking to elevate their customer support functions and the Dominican Republic’s premier outsourcing providers, known for their cutting-edge technological capabilities and customer-centric approach. With decades of collective experience working alongside industry titans like Verizon, GE, Visa, New York Life, and CVS Health, the leadership team at PITON-Global brings a wealth of knowledge and insight into the strategic integration of technology in customer care services.

The firm’s approach to customer support outsourcing is centered around leveraging the latest technological innovations to streamline operations and deliver superior customer experiences. “The integration of AI and machine learning into customer support operations allows for the automation of routine inquiries and the personalization of customer interactions, setting new standards in efficiency and customer satisfaction,” states John Maczynski, Co-CEO & CCO of PITON-Global. This tech-driven strategy ensures that businesses can offer responsive, tailored support, significantly enhancing the overall customer journey.

In the Dominican Republic, PITON-Global has identified and partnered with outsourcing providers who excel in deploying cutting-edge technologies such as AI, omnichannel communication platforms, and data analytics tools. These technologies facilitate seamless customer interactions across various channels, ensuring consistency and quality in every customer touchpoint. “Our local partners are at the forefront of adopting innovative customer support technologies, enabling them to offer unparalleled services that extend beyond traditional call center functions,” adds Ralf Ellspermann, Co-CEO & CSO of PITON-Global.

The multilingual talent pool in the Dominican Republic is a critical asset, allowing businesses to offer customer support in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, and French, from a single location. This linguistic versatility, combined with a deep understanding of cultural nuances, significantly enhances the effectiveness of customer interactions, making the Dominican Republic an attractive option for companies aiming to provide a globalized customer support experience.

Data security and regulatory compliance are also paramount considerations in PITON-Global’s advisory services. The firm ensures that all outsourcing partnerships adhere to the highest standards of data protection and comply with international regulations, safeguarding customer information and maintaining trust. “Protecting customer data is a fundamental aspect of our advisory services. We meticulously select partners who demonstrate unwavering commitment to data security and privacy,” emphasizes Ellspermann.

The collaboration facilitated by PITON-Global between companies and outsourcing providers is revolutionizing the landscape of customer care. By harnessing the Dominican Republic’s technological advancements and cultural assets, the firm empowers enterprises to achieve operational excellence in both front- and back-office customer support functions. This strategic approach not only optimizes business processes but also elevates the overall customer experience, fostering loyalty and driving growth.

As businesses continue to navigate the complexities of the digital age, the partnership between PITON-Global and the Dominican Republic’s leading customer support outsourcing providers stands as a testament to the transformative power of technology in customer experience. This alliance underscores the role of strategic outsourcing in building efficient, tech-driven customer care ecosystems that meet the evolving needs of businesses and their customers alike. Front and back-office customer support outsourcing to the Dominican Republic is not only going to grow but is also here to stay. 

Caribbean Immigrant Founder Of Phuse Cream Unveils Second South Florida Location

News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. April 5, 2024: Caribbean immigrant Joel Franklin is not just a serial entrepreneur; he’s a visionary who draws inspiration from the joys of fatherhood and the sweet moments in life. His entrepreneurial path is decorated with a diverse portfolio of ventures, ranging from the nightlife of clubs and restaurants to the vibrant energy of smoke shops and large-scale event planning, from pool parties to food festivals. Each business venture reflects a chapter in the Jamaican-born entrepreneur’s journey, showcasing his versatility and innovative spirit.

Phuse Cream founder, Jamaican Joel Franklin.

However, the heart of Franklin’s entrepreneurial narrative beats strongest at Phuse Cream, a dessert shop that marks a significant turning point in his career. Inspired by his daughter, Nala Franklin, he envisioned Phuse Cream as a business and a legacy. As a new father, he wanted his next venture to mirror his evolution, embodying the joy and responsibility of parenthood. With Nala as his muse, Franklin designed Phuse Cream with Nala in mind, envisioning it as a future inheritance filled with love and sweet memories.

Franklin opened his second Phuse Cream location, the acclaimed fusion ice cream shop known for its innovative dessert creations at 2806 N. University Drive, Sunrise, FL, 33322 on March 21st.

The store is now open from Monday -Sunday, from noon-midnight. Building upon the success of its Plantation flagship store, Phuse Cream continues to redefine the ice cream experience with its unique blend of flavors and culinary techniques.

Phuse Cream is a testament to Joel’s commitment to fusion and innovation. Specializing in macaron ice cream sandwiches, the shop combines the delicate European macaron with ice cream flavors inspired by cultures worldwide, creating a unique dessert experience. This concept has captivated customers and earned Phuse Cream the People’s Choice award at Dessert Wars 2023 and #8 in the national competition. The name ‘Phuse’ embodies the essence of Joel’s vision – a fusion of flavors and traditions that unite people in their love for ice cream. Each visit to Phuse Cream is an opportunity to escape into a world of whimsy and delight, where the universal language of ice cream brings people together.

At Phuse Cream, patrons are invited to indulge in a whimsical journey where diverse culinary cultures converge to create extraordinary desserts. The shop’s signature offering, the macaron ice cream sandwich, has garnered widespread acclaim, earning the prestigious 2023 Dessert Wars People’s Choice Award. This delightful treat seamlessly merges macarons’ elegance with ice cream’s creamy delight, embodying Phuse Cream’s commitment to innovation and quality.

The opening of the second Phuse Cream location marks a significant milestone in Franklin’s entrepreneurial journey, reflecting his unwavering dedication to innovation and commitment to creating lasting memories through sweet treats.

“Phuse Cream is a testament to our commitment to fusion and innovation,” said Franklin. “With our second location, we aim to spread the joy of our unique dessert experience to even more people, inviting them to join us on a journey of sweet indulgence and community.”

For more information, visit phusecream.com or follow Phuse Cream @phusecream on IG and TIK TOK for updates and announcements.

Meet The 2024 Caribbean Billionaires

News Americas, New York, NY, Weds. April 3, 2024: The list of the world’s richest people as compiled by Forbes is in for 2024 and three billionaires are listed as being “Caribbean billionaires.”

The 2024 Caribbean billionaires according to net worth are as follows:  

1: Kenneth Dart

Kenneth Dart is an heir to the Dart Container foam cup fortune and renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1994 to obtain citizenship in Belize. He is the #652 richest person in the world today with a net worth of US $4.7 billion and the richest in the Caribbean.

Dart relocated to the tax-free Cayman Islands in 1994. Born in Michigan, he invested part of his fortune in distressed sovereign debt from Greece to Argentina and made large profits by rejecting restructuring deals.

His largest assets are stakes in tobacco firms British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, which first became public knowledge in late 2020. He also owns significant real estate at the Camana Bay waterfront development in the Cayman Islands, a country where he also has citizenship.

2: Rihanna

Barbados born musician, turned actress and entrepreneur, Rihanna, is listed as the second richest Caribbean billionaire, on a list of just three.

Rihanna is listed at #2,265 on the world’s rich list, with a net worth of US $1.4B. That is  largely in part to the success of her cosmetics line – Fenty Beauty.

The cosmetics company, which she co-owns with French luxury retailer LVMH, doubled its revenue in 2022. She also has a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which raised money at a $1 billion valuation in February 2021.

3: Myron Wentz

Myron Wentz is the third richest Caribbean resident according to Forbes.

Myron Wentz, the founder of USANA, a multi-level marketing company that sells nutritional supplements and skincare products, rounds out the list of three Caribbean billionaires. Wentz, who renounced his American citizenship in the mid-1990s and now claims citizenship in St. Kitts & Nevis, has a net worth of US $1.3B

Wentz owns 42% of the business, which trades on the NYSE and makes $1 billion in net sales. He took it public in 1996. In December 2019, he retired as USANA’s chairman Prior to USANA, he founded Gull Laboratories in 1974 to sell diagnostic tests to hospitals and labs; he sold his stake in 1994 for $22 million.

From Wall Street Trader To Film Executive – This Caribbean American Encourages Women To “Embrace Your Evolution.”

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. March 28, 2024: “Women of color in the 21st century have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to constantly evolve. And we owe it to ourselves, our children– especially our daughters– to take advantage of that as much as we possibly can. Hopefully, I can lead by example.”

These are the words of Caribbean American businesswoman Lisa Franklyn-Zaidi, former Wall Street trader and current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the award-winning film and production company RFSwolf Entertainment LLC.

Caribbean American businesswoman Lisa Franklyn-Zaidi, former Wall Street trader and current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the award-winning film and production company RFSwolf Entertainment LLC. (Photo courtesy of Zaharah Zaidi.)

Founded in 2004 by Franklyn-Zaidi’s Trinidadian-born business partner, Emmy nominated television and film producer/director Randy Simon, RFSwolf Entertainment is a film and production entity that produces socially relevant content for non-profits and various corporations. Franklyn-Zaidi joined Simon in 2012, and since then the company has expanded its resume to include television reality shows, feature films, art installations such as New York’s African Burial Ground and an Off Broadway musical.

“If you had told me years ago that in 2024, I, someone with a finance background, would be deeply immersed in the entertainment business, managing the production of film, television, and stage projects and pitching them at major festivals, I would’ve sworn you were joking,” says the Columbia University graduate, who pursued a degree in Economics. “But I think my journey proves that you don’t have to be static– ever. There are always other challenges to attempt. And life is most satisfying when you emancipate yourself from mental boundaries and embrace all your possibilities.”

As strong advocates for human rights, racial equality and justice for women and the LGBTQIA community, Franklyn-Zaidi and Simon see their work as not just a job but a responsibility.

“Randy and I truly believe that we can raise awareness, enlighten minds and change hearts with our projects,” commented Franklyn-Zaidi. “And I think that my financial skills, newly acquired production knowledge, and chatterbox personality can blend together and allow me to contribute in very meaningful ways, especially with the list of everything we have coming up in 2024.”

On that list is a reality show featuring a celebrity dentist, the release and distribution of their independent feature film Third Week and a remounting of their 2023 Off Broadway musical, The Duchess Of Les- An AI Musical from Little Ukraine, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Kraine Theatre in the East Village last fall.

The latter two projects are emblematic of the work that Lisa and Randy are most passionate about, where art is used to present new realities to diverse audiences. 

In Third Week, written and directed by Spanish born auteur Jordi Torrent, a young second generation Caribbean-American man tries to rebuild his life after emerging from a three year prison term, using his prison skills to build a place for himself and his community. The film recently had its European premiere at American Film Fest in Madrid and Barcelona, with possibilities for U.S. distribution in the near future.

The Duchess of LES is an LGBTQIA-friendly musical that follows the story of Simon, a young breakdancer, who falls in love with her psychotic brother’s wife. The musical is described as “encapsulating all the broken dreams and grand hopes that make America the country it is, with music that will transport you back to the dance sounds of the 80s, as imagined by AI.”  It is written by Ukrainian playwright Dennis Woychuk. After a solid reception during its run last fall, Lisa, Randy and their team are in negotiations to remount the production later in 2024.

For the original New Yorker who now resides in North Carolina, and yet still maintains her deep “Trini” roots, it has been a winding and unlikely path that has brought her to her current destination. 

She was born in Manhattan to parents of Trinidadian descent, and partially raised in Trinidad for several years by her maternal grandparents. She was four years old when she and her two siblings returned to the United States where her mother, Jacklyne Cecelia Franklyn, a single parent after her divorce from Lisa’s father, made education a top priority for her children. She made huge sacrifices, as Franklyn puts it, to have her children attend private school, where Lisa and her siblings proved to be gifted and talented students. 

While studying at Columbia University, Franklyn reconnected with her high school friend Azeem “Malik” Zaidi, who later became her husband. After graduating, Franklyn worked as a commodities trader and research analyst on Wall Street at established companies including Firebird Capital, Wyndham Group and UBS Securities, eventually becoming a marketing consultant. And yet, at this precise moment, Franklyn-Zaidi elected to become a stay-at-home mom to her brood of three, which eventually grew to what she affectionately calls her “Fantastic Four”– daughter  Zaharah and sons Arshad, Arman and Azahn.

Reflecting on that part of her life now, she says: “It was a hard decision to make. My thought process however, was that I could always come back to a career later on, but my children will only be children now. So I deferred my dreams to give my children the nurturing they deserved. And I stand by that decision to this day.”

Initially, she worked part-time with Simon at RFSwolf while still raising her young family. She handled accounting before slowly entering the creative sphere as a Production Manager and Coordinator for independent films, commercials and several PSAs sponsored by organizations such as the National Park Service and National Institute of Health.

“It’s not the position I thought I’d be in years ago, but if my story proves anything, it’s that evolution is sometimes a welcome, if unexpected thing. You start in one career and wind up merging it with another. Above all else, this century offers women like me the opportunity to keep becoming. And that,” concluded Franklyn-Zaidi, “is a wonderful thing.”

Four Caribbean Nations Unite To Set Citizenship Investment Floor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. March 25, 2024: In a significant move towards cooperation and standardization, the leaders of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Kitts & Nevis have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to align their Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs).

This agreement introduces a uniform minimum investment price of USD 200,000; enhances regulatory collaboration, promotes transparency, and establishes a regional authority for oversight.

The initiative aims for full implementation by June 30, marking a pivotal step towards more coordinated economic strategies in the region. Notably, Saint Lucia did not participate in this agreement, sparking discussions about its implications. For more information, details see the IMI – Investment Migration Insider

Caribbean Businesses Embracing Digital Transformation, PwC Survey Reveals

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. March 25, 2024: A PwC Caribbean Digital Readiness Survey 2024 reveals significant strides in digital transformation among Caribbean businesses, emphasizing the critical role of artificial intelligence in driving change.

Nearly half of the businesses report seeing returns on digital investments, with a focus on customer experiences, decision-making, and brand enhancement.

PwC’s Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which finds that the majority of workers do not appear to have clarity on how their job requirements may change. What’s more, workers whose jobs don’t require specialised training appear the least likely to see change coming.

Only 15% of these respondents say the skills required to do their jobs will change in the next five years, compared with 51% of their counterparts whose jobs are more specialised.
Encouragingly, 68% of Caribbean respondents see their leader as a champion for digital transformation. However, only 59% believe their leadership is sufficiently digitally savvy and helps the workforce think in new ways.

When respondents were asked about the barriers to upskilling their workforce, the top three were: Lack of time (40%), lack of budget (36%) and lack of strategic focus on training (28%).

The survey underscores the importance of CEO leadership in digital transformation, the rise in Digital IQ, and the challenges posed by cyber vulnerabilities and legacy systems. It highlights the need for continued investment in digital tools, skills, and infrastructure to maintain competitive advantage and respond to the fast-evolving digital landscape.

For a comprehensive overview, visit PwC’s website​ (PwC)​.