Istra Bell is a creative, loves ice cream, chocolate and has a passion for entrepreneurship and small business management. Istra was born and raised on the tri-island state of Grenada, located in the Southeastern Caribbean Sea. The other two islands which make up the trio are Carriacou and Petite Martinique which lies north of Grenada. Istra’s passion for entrepreneurship started while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at St. George’s University (SGU). She did a required final year project at SGU where she chose to build a system which focused on promoting small businesses from Grenada.
IB: Islepreneur.com was started to solve a few growing problems I noticed with entrepreneurs in Grenada. One of the problems is that there are many great products on the island, but when visitors/tourists come to the island, they do not get to see many of those products and services. The other problem is that many of the small business owners do not have a marketing strategy and though they are aware of social media and its effectiveness, it can be difficult to figure out. Islepreneur makes it easy for the business owner with no social media skills.
IB:This is easy. FEAR! Fear is the number one thing that kept me from starting my blog when I wanted to. I knew what I wanted to do, I knew the kind of content I wanted to share, but I was afraid of doing it. I was afraid of sharing my thoughts and I was afraid of the things that people might say such as “I am not a good writer” and then no one will read my posts.I was also afraid that maybe I will one day just decide that I can’t continue blogging anymore and stop. At that time, I also did not know exactly what I should write. I knew the reason for starting Islepreneur and I knew that I wanted to share on entrepreneurship, but I wasn’t sure of how to put it all together into something people will want to read. Then, there was the issue of not having the right equipment such as a camera which is essential for what I wanted to do and the kind of content I wanted to share. I eventually told myself to stop worrying. As long as I started, things will fall into place. The thing is, if I had continued to think about all the reasons why I shouldn’t start doing what I know I should be doing, then I would have not gotten anywhere and I most likely would have missed out on opportunities such as being featured on this site. Despite not having all the things that I needed and not exactly knowing what the next post will be, I started and I continued posting. The more I posted, the more fear went away. I thought less and less about people and did what I knew I had to do and made the best out of what the resources I had at the moment, even today.
RB: Who has been the greatest influence on you since starting your venture and why?
IB: I have been following lots of bloggers before I got into blogging. To be honest, Islepreneur was not supposed to be a blog, but I sort of lost the project I did a couple years ago and decided that the best thing to do is share some of the same content in blog form. It was scary though because blogging was not a popular thing in Grenada.
Fortunately, for me, I found a few Grenadian bloggers living in the U.S. sharing great content and growing their blogs into income generating platforms. That is unheard of in Grenada, but just seeing the growth in these women and things they were able to do, encouraged me to start Islepreneur and see how far I can go with it.
RB: What is the vision for your business and where do you see yourself 5 years from now.
IB: The vision is to feature as many Grenadian and Caribbean small businesses on Islepreneur as possible and to share content to encourage entrepreneurship and to help small businesses move from one stage to the next. It is also my goal, through the site, to link potential customers to these businesses, especially the diaspora.