Fifty representatives from T&T’s mas community can now access an estimated $1 million worth of free Internet access, plus business management and information technology training as an ambitious “Carnival hub” initiative between the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF) and the T&T Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) takes effect. Under an arrangement worked out between the TTCSI and Blink Broadband, mas-band representatives will now be able to present a better online presence to stimulate the country’s e-commerce sector through their work. But for those whose business acumen needs to be refreshed or upgraded, the NCDF has secured a commitment from the Business Development Company, too, under which they will be provided with training. As part of the 18-month project, eight mas bands received desktop computers courtesy Blink BroadBand last week at TSTT’s Hospitality Suite, Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.
“We are really pleased about today,” said Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, chairman of the NCDF. “It has been frustrating on my end, but motivatingly so. Working with TTCSI, they understand my concerns and the concerns of my membership in having this project done as quickly as possible.” He said the Business Development Company had agreed to provide the training for all of those involved in this project, both in information technology and in business. “That’s a huge cost. It’s over $400,000-$500,000 that they are putting out for us. He explained the overall objective. “Your mas band, your designing operation, your artisanship, is, in fact, a business, and we want to place that in a position that you could be able to be successful, to the extent of exporting your services globally. We are only 1.3 million here. There are a couple billion over there and they have money. There is a following for culture and there is a following for Carnival.” He reminded the audience that T&T’s Carnival was voted the best in the world for 2011, while the West Indian Day Carnival (Labour Day) and Notting Hill ranked fourth and seventh, respectively. T&T-inspired Carnival, he said, where the diaspora was playing a critical role, was also making waves.