With so much digital media consumption now taking place on mobile apps, it’s no surprise that many tech innovators are focusing not on desktop computers but on smaller, do-it-all, handheld devices. You could say small is the new big. The Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada is keen to join countries around the region in helping its youth participate in the lucrative global mobile-app industry. Thirty eager participants ranging from secondary students to civil servants and seasoned tech practitioners recently took part in BrightPath Foundation’s AppMaster mobile workshop, held as part of the country’s National ICT Week activities.
The AppMaster Workshop is specially designed by BrightPath, an international tech education non-profit organisation that encourage development and uptake of mobile apps in emerging markets like the Caribbean.
“I never thought I would be able to turn my ideas into mobile apps, until this workshop,” said 22-year-old Clevon Joseph, one of participants at the one-day workshop at the Grenada National Stadium in St Georges, last week.
"I have a whole new understanding of the app development process. It was an excellent workshop with great practical exercises," said Cherry-Ann Lewis, one of several young ladies taking part in the event.
The workshop targeted the country's tourism, agriculture, health and entertainment sectors as potential beneficiaries of a Caribbean mobile app development thrust.
“At a time when the region is looking for new ways to spur economic growth and sustainable development, encouraging innovation and creativity of youth is key,” said Bevil Wooding, Executive Director of BrightPath.
“Technology education provides a natural attraction point for the youth but by itself it is not enough. Training programs have to also impart a sense of mission and civic responsibility if they are to be effective in making a national and regional impact.”
The AppMaster mobile app development course was designed by BrightPath Foundation, an international tech education non-profit organisation, to encourage development and uptake of mobile apps in emerging markets like the Caribbean, according to Emmanuel Simon, a BrightPath volunteer facilitator. Simon, a Harvard-educated mobile app developer, is co-founder of Reela, a mobile commerce technology company based in New York.
At last week's workshop, Simon was busy helping the enthusiastic participants navigate the process of building customised apps that focused on solving specific local problems.
Makeva Lewis, a workshop participant said, “I didn’t realise app development could be so much fun. I have a much clearer picture of the importance of team work, and the role I can play. Doing the AppMaster training has made me really eager to find and solve problems from my own community!”
The ICT Week included a series of technology education and community outreach initiatives, held throughout the country over five days.
Eric Nurse, Grenada’s National ICT Coordinator, said, “This mobile application training has been the one of the most anticipated and engaging sessions at our ICT Week 2015 event. It has been amazing to witness the level of interaction between the facilitator and the participants. The BrightPath team’s practical approach and focus on identifying local opportunities really impacted the participants and made this workshop a success.”
Since its launch in 2012, BrightPath's AppMaster program has touched more than 800 participants in nine Caribbean countries. Directly addressing the challenges of the region and highlighting the local, regional and global opportunities available to Caribbean app developers, Wooding said, was key to the programme’s continued success.
“From the inception, there has been great participation in all our digital content creation programs. We have been working with the private sector and governments across the region to deliver training, facilitated by regional and international experts, that combines technical know-how with values-based principles. Participants often tell us that they feel more confident and empowered to start technology businesses or seek employment in the region’s growing IT industry.”
Over the coming months, BrightPath plans to host similar workshops in St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In September, a regional App Development hackathon will give participants from across the Caribbean a forum to fully develop their mobile applications for presentation and distribution. Apps will tackle regional problems in education, health, tourism, culture, agriculture and civic services.
More information about the BrightPath AppMaster Initiative is available from BrightPath’s official website www.brightpathfoundation.org and on Twitter @brightpathorg.
This article was originally published on Trinidad and Tobago Guardian.