Innovation is a buzz topic nowadays in Caribbean entrepreneurship circles. Simply put, it’s the result of the careful mix of problem solving, thought leadership and creativity.

In my line of work, perusing through social media profiles is a daily ritual  and recently I’ve been adding  Instagram accounts that have a uniquely distinct Caribbean flare. These accounts showcase everything: art, nature, buying local, fashion, food, music et al.

Following the expert advice of a business mentor, I was challenged  to develop a portfolio of innovative ideas and so, I curated three Instagram photos which spoke to the factors that can be tapped into or debunked in order to harness innovation from within our locale.

Exhibit A

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March 5, 2016 Identity. Dancehall is about being seen. Being fashionable is about redefining and maintaining ones identity. Patrons who go to the dancehall are aware that they will be seen, in New York, London, Canada, Japan and in their own communities — all the places that they might have relatives who will feel pride when they see them. Dancehall patrons depend on the echoes from abroad to validate how fashionable and relevant they are. Some depend on the seasonal "barrels," laden with "foreign goodies" to elevate their status in their communities even if it is just one night. Our relationship with everything foreign has not always been about leaving the island but more about shifting the identity barometer. Foreign clothes, foreign design was a signal that you were of better or a different status socially. Foreign clothes give the impression that you are a "traveler" or you know someone that travels. And who doesn't like the shine that fifteen minutes of fame gives. Light eradicates poverty, even if it is just for a night. #thefineartofdaggering #reggae #dancehall #streetportrait #streetphotography #makeportrait #film

A post shared by Humanist/Agency VII Photog (@ruddyroye) on

Ruddy Roye is prolific photojournalist who documents the gritty existence of grass root peoples globally, especially in his native Jamaica yaad. This pic  provides a glimpse into the dancehall culture and its intersection with identity, performance and being seen.

Roye opines that many dancehall goers often dunn themselves in the most outrageous of outfits  which are usually gifted by their relatives abroad.  Though the dancehall culture is endemic to Jamaica, coquettes rely heavily on the barrels of farren fashion to validate their personal style and falsely perceived elevated social status. And this ascription to anything farren only serves but to stifle efforts to appreciate anything homegrown/homemade.


Exhibit B

Haiti has always been an unfortunate item on the poverty porn menu of mainstream media producers and consumers.Though heralded as the first Black Republic in the western hemisphere, its positive attributes have always been overshadowed by reports of political upheavals, environmental degradation, economic hardships and down right hopelessness. Then this image, like a potent antidote cures my vile viewpoints and mystically paints Haiti with a different brush.  It happens to be a promotional video capturing the essence of the Haiti unseen by the world’s majority. It is the Haiti that exists, seldom spoken of but also the Haiti that is fêting its richesse naturelle and inviting the millennial traveller to experience and archive to the annals of instagrammed museums.


Exhibit C

The Caribbean is larger than its geographical borders. It also includes those who of that heritage and occupy foreign lands.

One snapshot of a son of the soil repping the #868 well is restauranteur  Chris Morris who envisaged creating a cultural bridge between Asia and the Caribbean with his restaurant Lime House. At Morris’ establishment, diners can enjoy authentic Caribbean food and hospitality with heaping helpings of jerked rack of lamb, macaroni pie, curried goat and rum punch cocktails.

All in all what do these three random instagram pics reveal about innovation? In looking at the first, photographer Ruddy Roye shone the spotlight of  a prevailing notion in the Caribbean that foreign produced goods automatically equates better. We must debunk this idea and recognise that we have capacity to locally develop goods and services that can add value to our communities. Furthermore, Haiti’s Ministry of Tourism is a small representation of how innovators can capitalise on social media to share ideas and retell the untold stories of good that can come out of our region. Lastly, Limehouse Restaurant in Singapore tells the best story of innovation which encapsulates serving a need that doesn’t exist in that region by using cultural elements from the Caribbean to offer a branded product in that overseas locale.