Houston, we’ve got a problem !
– according to the trinidadian entrepreneur Curtis Toussaint –
In Trinidad and Tobago, even though higher education is free, there are still obstacles to the expansion of knowledge like stimulating young children to learn, especially boys.
There are core issues that limited the progress in education: the internet supply is not evenly distributed, which gives to printed material an important play in the student’s education. And yet, books, journals, articles and printed press can be very costly and most school libraries do not have librarians which implies that the students do not fully benefit from the libraries. Also, because of free education being so recent, it can be difficult for parents to help their children once they get to high education, especially when they are doing book research for papers or dissertation. As a matter of fact, not only students but also people managing their business need help for written tasks.
What solution does Curtis Toussaint provide ?
E.I.E as in Educate.Inspire.Encourage, “The Caribbean's premiere Library Services, Knowledge Management and tertiary book acquisition source”
With E.I.E, Curtis uses Education as a response to delinquency while being aware that younger people might not be attracted by it and he assists people in any form of what he calls “knowledge management”
Who is in the team ?
Curtis, 37 yo, father of four boys and one girl is working in EIE with his wife who is a librarian.
How do they work ?
EIE works with small and medium businesses and also individuals, like students from the university by helping them in their research, in interterpreting collected datas, or by providing any similar service. E.I.E also offers a service of library management (organizing and cataloguing for instance).
Moreover, they sell used and new books, journals, printed press at prices lower than traditional bookshops.
How do they finance their business?
For now, by bootstrapping: they reinvest the money they made through other businesses into this one.
Indeed, until very recently, Curtis also managed the boat company he had with his father.
What did he do before?
Curtis started doing business when he was 19 with a drapery company.
After this first attempt, Curtis knew that it was the right track as conventional jobs did not fit him.
In the 2000’s, he owned a free magazine which encountered great success: its goal was to showcase talents: painters, singers, musicians, dancers and others. Whatever art it was, the magazine would either publish the story the artist submitted or an interview of them. This ended because the advertisers reduced their budget once the economic crisis hit them.
What now ?
EIE is looking for partenerships with organizations willing to finance library development in primary schools in the Caribbean in order to help more schools than he does today.