Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be in the Caribbean to see how one entrepreneur is working on UN SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. Kenna Questelles, CEO of LinkUp Caribbean, is passionately working to increase connections between Caribbean small businesses and consumers, so everyone can benefit. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome, Kenna! I’m excited to hear about your work! Can you start by telling me what kind of challenges you’re addressing?
Kenna: LinkUp Caribbean is a digital space where consumers can find the exact small business in the Caribbean to suit their needs—and Caribbean small businesses can find the resources to flourish and remain competitive.
Spiffy: That sounds like a win-win! Can you tell me what motivated you to work on this challenge?
Kenna: Well, Spiffy, the initial idea for LinkUp Caribbean came about when I encountered difficulty in finding professionals to complete a personal construction project. While I knew there were great carpenters, plumbers, and electricians in my area, there was no way to get their contact numbers. As I thought about this problem, I realized that other people experiencing this issue and on a larger scale it was leading to negative economic growth due to larger imports of goods and services. Realizing the positive impact a solution like LinkUp Caribbean could have on the economy and the community motivated me to get started. Hearing positive feedback from clients keeps me going.
Spiffy: Can you talk to me about how you are working to create a more equitable world?
Kenna: Local small businesses, though small in size, have been the backbone of our society for generations. Yet they often struggle to get noticed and remain competitive among larger businesses in the market due to a lack of funding, knowledge, and human resources. As a space solely dedicated to Caribbean-owned micro, small businesses, LinkUp Caribbean aims to create an equitable world by 1) increasing the visibility of Caribbean micro and small businesses, 2) empowering consumers to buy local by providing a modernized platform that enhances their buying experience, and 3) providing access to the tools and educational resources that lead to stronger small businesses.
Spiffy: Have you reached any milestones recently? What impact do you anticipate?
Kenna: We recently integrated the ability for small businesses to sell online through our platform. This not only helps them to add another revenue stream but gives consumers the added benefit of payment security.
Spiffy: Can you share about a time when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from failure?
Kenna: A lot of the failures I have had thus far, while I may have some regret that they happened, I can't imagine if they had happened later in my career or business journey. 'Failure' has taught me that it is okay to fail—the sooner you fail the better. And also learned that we should focus more on the lessons our experiences (whether good or bad) have or are trying to teach us. It is so easy to get caught up with whether or not we've met some standard set by ourselves or others that we miss the value of the entire experience. Many times, what our human minds perceive to be failures are redirections and boosts for the next step in our journeys.
Spiffy: You just have to be open! Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Kenna: Becoming more obsessed with your 'why' than with your 'how' or your 'what' will help you identify opportunities, and navigate and overcome challenges. The recent dynamic changes brought on by the pandemic have demonstrated how easy life can be disrupted in the twinkling of an eye. If we focus on our purpose—our why—we'd realize there are so many ways it can be manifested.
Spiffy: The possibilities are endless, aren’t they Kenna. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Keep making a positive impact!
Kenna Questelles is an award-winning Vincentian entrepreneur with a passion for advancing local small island communities and businesses through innovative technologies and strategies. Kenna is the founder and CEO of LinkUp Caribbean and has over nine years of working experience as an accountant. (Nominated by One Young World. First published on the Ladderworks website on July 27, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.