In 2010, Pulitzer-prize winning author Isabel Wilkerson penned a masterful piece of work called, “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration”. In this book, a compilation of 15 years of research, she curates countless personal stories of black Americans who left – often the cause of fatal or potentially fatal racism – America’s southern states for northern and western states in search of a better life, or as she puts it, “the warmth of other suns.” After reading this body of work, I immediately felt like there needed to be a version for the Caribbean; one called, “The Cold of Other Lands”. This version would chronicle the great migration of the Caribbean’s skilled human capital to the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

When it comes to discussions of development in the Caribbean, one of the most critical topics at hand is the issue of brain drain: a phenomenon where a nation’s skilled human capital emigrate to other countries, usually premised on the notion that more developed lands provide better economic and educational opportunities.

In a working paper,  Emigration and Brain Drain: Evidence from the Caribbean (2016), Prachi Mishra notes that the Caribbean has one of the world’s highest emigration rates as it relates to the movement of people with more than 12 years of completed schooling. He states,

The Caribbean countries have lost 10-40 percent of their labor force due to emigration to OECD member countries. The migration rates are particularly striking for the high-skilled. Many countries have lost more than 70 percent of their labor force with more than 12 years of completed schooling-among the highest emigration rates in the world. The region is also the world’s largest recipient of remittances as a percent of GDP. Remittances constituted about 13 percent of the region’s GDP in 2002. Simple welfare calculations suggest that the losses due to high-skill migration (ceteris paribus) outweigh the official remittances to the Caribbean region.

If you’re a Caribbean man or woman with a 21st century relevant skill-set, these statistics are believable and probably not surprising to you. You’ve probably heard it at least once, “Girl, Boy, with your skill set you should try to go the US, the UK or Canada.” Keeping this in mind – the propensity for Caribbean people to believe that there are better opportunities in the cold of other lands – for most Caribbean people, Keron McLeish’s story is a crazy one.

Keron McLeish was born in Trinidad and Tobago but migrated to Canada at 1-month old. At 27 years old he left all the trappings of “foreign” to return to Trinidad and Tobago to start a mobile company. While his company does not directly tackle the issue of brain drain, it is most definitely a glowing symbol of his beliefs: “Entrepreneurial success is possible from the Caribbean” particularly when companies seek to solve the region’s issues.

Take a peek at his interview!
 

What is the name of your company?

Droid Island
 

If you were headlining a UN event or Ted Talk, how would you introduce your company?

I am a mobile expert whose goal is to help the Caribbean consumer navigate the world of technology. I do that by providing devices specifically outfitted to my clients needs, I blog so that our region can learn more about the world of mobile tech and I have strategic partnerships with manufacturers like Samsung & Huawei, and service providers like Digicel & Bmobile, to further educate the region.
 

What inspired the birth of this company?

I love mobile technology, teaching and working with people. Mobile has become such an important field globally, and we have a gaping hole in our region where consumers are not using the technology to its fullest potential. If more people learned how to use these devices as tools, they could build businesses and enrich their personal lives.
 

How do you think your company solves any of your village, community, country or region’s problems?

A region that becomes more tech savvy can then start looking at how to create businesses and attract clients outside of just their local market. It would then attract Forex and expand their consumer base.


 

Do you have any co-founders and/or notable team members?

No
 

What would you say has been your greatest challenge as a company thus far and how have you overcome it or how are you working to overcome it?

have not had any challenges to date that I have not been able to overcome. The timing is perfect for my brand and companies have seen my vision because of all the content I create and have been very willing to work with me as they see the value in what I do.
 

What would you say has been your greatest triumph/achievement as a company thus far?

I would say being able to have worked with all of the brands that I have thus far, in such a short time. I put myself out there to work with my first company 8 months ago which was Huawei, and since then I have worked with Samsung, LoopTT, Bmobile & Digicel. I have also been featured on LoopTT, CNC3, CNMG, OMGTT. I am also proud of self publishing my first book and getting it up on Amazon, further pushing me as an authority figure in the mobile space.

You can find Keron’s book, Droid Island, on Amazon.
 

What would be your advice to other Caribbean content creators?

Be creative, utilize the technology, be willing to start as small as possible, lead with passion, create content that shows your vision & expertise and most importantly…GIVE VALUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

What is your vision for entrepreneurship in your country or in the Caribbean?

We need a paradigm shift. You don’t need to run a big company. You can be extremely successful as a solopreneur, or manage a small team. You also can build a business that capitalizes on the global market and not just in your local market. I would like to see more people get informed about all the tools at their disposal, and stop relying on the government to create a path for them. You have the internet, that’s really all you need to educate yourself and create a business that will allow you to make money from every part of the world, without even thinking about putting an ad in the local paper.
 

What would you say has been your most valued entrepreneurial lesson thus far?

Mental Health is key…

So many institutions and companies suffer because the leaders are mentally unhealthy. I have learned the importance of mental health, empowering people, investing in people, ensuring that I give them all the tools to grow as an individual so that they can leave my company one day, but I also believe in  creating an environment where they would want to stay.
 

The Man Behind The Company

Name

Keron McLeish
 

Country of Birth

Trinidad and Tobago
 

Country of Residence

Trinidad and Tobago
 

Favorite Music Artist

Chronixx
 

Favorite Song

Skankin Sweet
 

What is the book that you’ve given most as a gift and why?

Crushing It – Gary Vaynerchuck…

That book puts you in the right frame of mind to really tackle the world, and learn that you can build a brand off of your passion.
 

What are the three books that have most influenced your life?

  1. Crushing It – Gary Vaynerchuck
  2. Who Says You Can’t, You Do – Daniel Chidiac
  3. Care Package – Sylvest Mc Nutt

 

What recent purchase of yours has most positively impacted your life?

My computer.It’s probably the thing I use the most and do everything on.
 

How has a failure of yours set you up for later success?

I have never failed…I have just learned what doesn’t work and moved on. Winning!!!
 

What is a quote that you think of often or live your life by?

No crime is as great as daring to excel – Sir Winston Churchill

When you strive to do good stuff, there will always be those who want to ensure that you do not rise above them so it’s extremely important to put out good energy and attract the right tribe who pushes you to be the best version of yourself.
 

What is one of the most worthwhile investments that you have made?

My mental health.

Without buying books,investing time in reading, listening to podcasts, and being by myself, I think I would be very lost or on a path of self destruction.
 

In the past three years what belief, behavior or habit has most improved your life?

That I am too creative, too outspoken, to work for a company. I have learned what my passions are, and I am working everyday on turning those into my career.
 

What advice would you give to a school leaver in your country about the braving the uniqueness of the entrepreneurial environment in your country?

The Caribbean is an emerging market and needs your talents, passion, and skills. Going to an established market like the UK, Canada, or North America is cool, they are further ahead but you will never get the respect that you deserve. Be apart of the change for your region. We have so many tools to build here in a market with untapped potential. Look around, and see every country in the world is looking to take a piece of the Caribbean…build your global empire right here.
 

When you feel overwhelmed/unfocused what do you do?

I listen to music (Chronixx or Classical), or I take myself to a movie (alone).
 

Who most inspires you?

Nobody inspires me to be honest. I would rather go out and get it for myself. I read and listen to a lot of people, take their advice, their views and use it to form my own stuff. But I am someone who just goes for things, without having to look outward for motivation or inspiration.
 

You can connect with Keron on Social Media using the following links:

Instagram
Twitter
Facebook