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What is IBIS?

The National Integrated Business Incubation System (IBIS) is a project developed by the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development (MOLSED); this programme is created to provide a unique mix of business development support, infrastructure, operational and financial assistance that will assist in the growth and success of new and existing micro and small enterprises (MSEs). Specifically, IBIS will assist MSEs by providing assistance in the areas of mentoring, infrastructural support, Information Technology, operational support, financing, as well as networking opportunities for access to local and foreign markets.

Cabinet granted approval for IBIS in August, 2011 and the project began in September 2011. The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO) will be responsible for implementing IBIS and signed a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2011 to operate IBIS.

Why do we need IBIS?

The Trinidad and Tobago MSE sector is characterised by:

  1. High levels of informality

  2. Inadequate support structure

  3. Lack of information among MSEs re support services, opportunities and conventions

  4. Duplication of support services provided to MSEs and

  5. Absence of a clear, structured development path for MSEs.

A study by the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (2010) on the current state of entrepreneurship in Trinidad and Tobago indicate that we need better access to finance, improved education, and a clear overarching national policy regarding business start-up, reporting and cultural transformation.

The objectives of the Business Incubator Programme are:

  • To enhance economic development in communities

  • To expose clients to training in skills development and entrepreneurship orientation

  • To establish alliances with stakeholder partners from the public, private and NGO sectors to advance enterprise development for MSEs

  • To encourage innovation and competitiveness

  • To encourage environmentally-friendly standards and good business practices

  • To offer solutions and interventions that address the problems of unaffordable work spaces, information deficiencies, inadequate financing and other problems that MSEs face.

The proposed programme is a variant of the best practice models used internationally. Business Incubators are designed to provide operational, administrative, infrastructural and financing support to its clients. The objective is to ensure that these clients develop sustainable, competitive businesses.

How does IBIS operate?

IBIS takes a holistic, integrative approach to MSE development through the creation of alliances and harmonization of current business development initiatives to fill existing gaps.

Public-Private Partnerships

There is a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors in order to plan, manage and operate the entire system. Service providers and partners for IBIS include:


Trainers and Service providers


Ratings agencies

Educational and research institutions

Professional networks

Government Ministries and Agencies

Private Sector and NGOs

IBIS seeks to coordinate the various support services for these entities and allows structured support and collaboration. Clients will therefore have the ability to choose among service providers to obtain business and entrepreneurial skills.

Business Incubator Models

There are two types of incubators: (i) the community-based business and (ii) the commercial business incubator.

    1. Community Based Business Incubator (CBBI)

The CBBI aims to leverage business activities based on the resources of the target community. These communities will be identified using social indicators including, but not limited to, unemployment alleviation and poverty reduction.

    1. Commercial Business Incubators (CBI)

Commercial Incubators will be geared towards the development of businesses which are high-value and high-growth which provides the impetus for national economic transformation.

The Six (6) Stages of the Business Incubation Process

Clients of both categories will undergo three main stages; each stage comprising certain phases: pre-incubation (phases 1-4), incubation (phase 5) and post-incubation (phase 6):




Brief Description


Candidate selection

A formal process of determining the best possible selection of candidates given the mutual incubator-client fit.




Candidates develop their own vision for their business ideas in a national, regional and global context given consideration to consumers, business models, sectors and the evolving market place.



Skills Development

The impartation of requisite skills to improve the client’s capabilities to help them prepare a business plan and develop their management skills.


Business proposal

The business idea is developed into a plan given the context, required skills and other sector specific considerations.



Business incubation

The business is developed and made operational with given, direct holistic support including seed capital, professional and administrative support, mentoring and coaching.




The business leaves the incubator to operate independently. Support is provided but less directly. The business is monitored and evaluated against the pre-determined criteria established upon entry to the incubator.


IBIS will provide seed capital for clients (from $5,000 to $50,000). However, IBIS will create a facilitative environment so that clients may source additional funding from NEDCO or other financial institutions to fully fund their projects. 


How will IBIS deliver its services?

For the pre-incubation phases, IBIS will operate out of a NEDCO location (for the community based business incubators) or from other locations to be identified by NEDCO and its partner/s (for the commercial business incubators).

For the CBBIs, IBIS will occupy physical premises of approximately 6,000 square feet. The premises will include physical space for each client to produce the appropriate goods/service. The incubator will also provide administrative support services including conference room facilities and other office services. Other incubators will also operate as virtual incubators where businesses can receive support via internet technology; this will not necessarily be located within one physical space. Clients will also receive appropriate operational support from professionals.

Where will IBIS operate?

The Ministry intends to establish 18 business incubators throughout the country over the next 3 years --- 8 CBBIs and 10 CBIs. IBIS will start initially as a 2 CBBI pilot projects in Siparia and Sangre Grande. This decision arose from feasibility studies that took into account the unemployment and poverty levels, income distribution statistics, presence of raw materials, the need for development, and the assessment of plans of the Regional Development Corporations and regional stakeholders in the selected business communities.

The CBI’s will be developed in collaboration with private partners using the public-private partnership model These clients are expected to be high value, high profit operations and therefore are expected to focus on economic diversification. For these commercial incubators, there will be public-private sector partnerships with private sector and NGO firms to operate the business incubators and thus share the costs of operation. The objective is to support those clients with the potential to create significant value and generate substantial revenues and profitability from their operations.

How will IBIS clients be sourced?

The programme is open to all residents of Trinidad and Tobago. The selection process involves an application process followed by an interview that assesses the prospective candidate’s competencies, passion and business idea/s. IBIS will cater to both new and existing businesses. The initial list of candidates was compiled from lists of self-selected NEDCO clients, existing businesses suggested by the community stakeholders and from applicants who responded to public advertisements.

How will IBIS be financed?

While the initial support will be provided by the Government through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), IBIS is intended to be self-financing and sustaining in the long term. Further, businesses that have successfully graduated are contractually obligated to contribute to the incubator either in cash or kind. It is proposed that IBIS should attain full financial sustainability within 4 to 6 years. These funds will be used primarily to benefit the clients directly, with the focus on client operational and business development support, rental premises, and the provision of seed capital.

How will I get additional information on IBIS?


Enterprise Development Division (EDD) at the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development

Telephone: 627-0756 Ext. 1518



The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO)

Telephone: 625-7679


Port of Spain

89 Queen Street & Chacon Street Corner
(Upstairs The Trinidad Building & Loan Association)

Tel.: 821-5802

Fax: 625-7144



135 Eastern Main Road

Tel.: 821-5808

Fax: 662-1650



22 King Street

Tel.: 821-5810

Fax: 667-5395


Sangre Grande

Lp#66, Eastern Main Road

Tel.: 821-5806

Fax: 691-0707



93 Ramsaran Street

Tel.: 821-5805

Fax: 672-6819


San Fernando

#13 Naparima Mayaro Road
Cocoyea Village

Tel.: 821-5807

Fax: 653-7184


Point Fortin

26 Guapo Road Cap-De-Ville

Tel.: 821-5803

Fax: 646-3450


Princes Town

#3 Manahambre Road

Tel.: 821-5809

Fax: 655-5277


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