My Quartier My business on the roads of Saint-Martin

Initiative Saint Martin Active and their partners officially launched the second edition of My Quartier My business.

"In 2016, Initiative St. Martin Active reached out St Martiners with business ideas, to help them achieve their business project through encouragement and support. We came up with the idea of meeting them directly in their neighborhood. This is how the operation My Quartier My Business was born", explains Marc Chakhtoura, Director of Initiative Saint Martin Active. "We were aware that many people did not know our association and/or were afraid of institutions," adds Mathieu Nicoise, representative for the mission.

Lectures and workshops (with the help of Greta) have been organized throughout the territory. "We presented our mission and our services of support and guidance to companies, associations. We also took the time to listen to the public and to answer their questions", adds the director. More than 155 people have been seen to, with around sixty of them coming from priority neighborhoods (French Quarter and Sandy Ground). 10 were employed and 56 looking for a job, out of which 31 had been looking for over twelve months, and 10 were recipients of the RSA. 17 people were in the process of setting up a company, and 10 were undergoing training. 21 had stopped their project for various reasons.

This year, Initiative Saint Martin Active has decided to repeat the operation, while bringing on an innovation. “We will organize tailored meetings in the neighborhoods, twice a week, to get closer to the population during the day” explains Marc Chakhtoura With this goal in mind, the association has purchased a van. The van will travel through the French side, and make stops at French Quarter, Grand Case, Marigot, Sandy Ground, etc. The van's interior space has been fitted out to receive the population in a comfortable environment.

Initiative St. Martin Active also wanted to involve the population in its operation; that is why they launched the Tag My Van competition at the beginning of the year. The participants were asked to provide a tag to decorate the van. A young St Martiner, Diélando Fiacre, provided the winning tag. His work has been stuck on the van.

Finally, the Caisse des dépôts et Consignations (CDC) awarded the Cités Lab label to the operation, which recognizes operations promoting business creation and support in the neighborhoods. "This label will allow the association to benefit from new tools and training, as well as the experience of the entire network," says Jennifer Martin, in charge of territorial development for the CDC Antilles French Guiana. With this in mind, Mathieu Nicoise has been designated «Ambassador of the CitésLab entrepreneurial culture». He has already traveled twice to France for training. He must return to France in December. «I had the opportunity to discuss with other people, and spy on what others were doing! The goal is to share ideas and concepts, and to be able to come back and apply them to our territory" he adds.

An agreement between different stakeholders (Initiative Saint Martin, Pôle Emploi, the Collectivité, the State, CDC) was signed Monday morning for My Quartier My Business to implement the Cités Lab scheme.

Next Monday, the van will be at French Quarter from 9:00 to noon, in the parking lot of the stadium Thelbert Carty.

My Quartier My Business is an operation which is part of the city contract signed by the community of Saint Martin and the State in December 2015. It has received the support of the State, the Collectivité, Pôle Emploi, the Caisse des Dépôts and the Inter-professional Consular Chamber of Saint-Martin

Estelle Gasnet