Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 23rd 2014 Contents Atiba Phillips...
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2014
Atiba Phillips is a young mover and
shaker who has embraced the challenge
of encouraging our youth through the
use of technology, in areas such as agri-
culture. To that end, he set up a non-
profit organisation in 2009, the Com-
munity HUB (Hope, Understanding,
Belief) dedicated to this purpose.
The HUB is an innovative social enter-
prise with a global vision for change
through the development of youth and
communities by leveraging Information
and Communications Technologies (ICTs).
It is the medium through which Phillips
and his board are determined to help build
our youth capacity, by introducing under-
served youth, especially through educa-
tional technology-based programmes,
video, animation, digital media, Web and
The HUB works through a network of
professionals in the ICT field as well as
school principals, parents, and volunteers
skilled in other disciplines who are advo-
cates for youth.
An ICT strategy expert,
Phillips has served as
chairman and CEO of
the National ICT
Company Ltd of
where he was the
State s ICT lead in
India, Brazil and
international bodies on ICT matters
through his firm, Infocomm Technologies
Ltd. Phillips is also a member of the ICT
Programme Advisory Board of the Uni-
versity of T&T and has lectured at the
masters level in Strategic IT in e-Business
and e-Marketing through the University
of Greenwich, England.
He holds an MBA from the University
of California at Berkeley, USA, and is both
a Fulbright and Haas Merit Scholar.
The programme that has recently
engaged students at schools such as Suc-
cess Laventille Composite (Team Agriology)
and St George s College (Team Agri-Info),
UTT (Team AgriTech), Costaatt and Team
Bishop Centenary is the Agri-Hack Talent
Competition which supports the devel-
opment of ICT innovations and entre-
preneurship in agriculture.
Students were presented with six
Caribbean challenges facing regional agri-
culture stakeholders from which to choose
and tasked with developing an application
to solve this. Their presentation included
the elements of the problem, the proposed
solution, the target audience for the appli-
cation, clearly outlined benefits, and rev-
Since the HUB s start-up in 2009 it
has engaged youth in the areas of ICT s
and Education, ICT s and the Environment
and ICT s and Crime.
Q: Tell us a bit about your early
years: where were you born,
grew up, and where did you
attain your various levels of education?
A: I was born and raised in Dia-
mond Vale and attended Dia-
mond Vale Primary School. From
there, I went to Fatima College where as
a cricketer, as a fast bowler, I used to bowl
down Lara when he came to practice with
us (laughing). I was captain of the school
cricket teams at the Under-16 and Under-
19 levels, and I also qualified for the
national Under-19 team.
After Fatima College, I went to UWI,
St Augustine, where I pursued a Bachelor s
degree in management studies.
I graduated from UWI with honours
and picked up a position at the National
Information Systems Centre on the Y2K
Task Force. I then went to the University
of California at Berkley on Fulbright and
Haas Merit scholarships to pursue an MBA.
Throughout all of my education, though
they have business labels, each degree had
a significant technology slant. I have been
passionate about technology since my
very early days and I have pursued it
What inspires you to do what you do?
What was the motivating factor in start-
ing the HUB and what challenges do you
During my stint at bpTT, there was an
"Orphanage Project" which a group of us
were invited to be involved in. When we
visited the children s homes I was bro-
ken-hearted by what I saw. The teenagers
were just as bright and with all the poten-
tial as any of us, but they didn t have
money and a family structure around them
to nurture that potential. Indeed they lived
in very deprived conditions. I wanted to
give the administrators all the money I
had in order to assist, but I knew that
that wouldn t even be close to enough.
I saw that beyond just giving cash what
was needed was the harnessing of a net-
work of the resourceful and talented to
give back in a structured manner. So I
vowed to myself that, as soon as I was
able, I would set up an institution to help
young people such as these, and that is
how the HUB eventually came about in
our attempt to bring hope, understanding
and belief to our youth.
Finding that steady and sustainable
funding source, as well as a suitable place,
a home to operate training programmes
out of, continue to be our basic challenges.
I d really like the private sector as well as
the Government to get more on board
with us. We are open to partnerships and
collaborations to get things done. When
I look around the country and see how
many men---young men---are vagrants on
the street, it is disheartening. Men are
supposed to be the head of the household,
the backbone of society...why are so many
of us destitute?
I have a theory that it can take as little
as two consecutive wrong decisions to
land a person into a destitute situation.
I am motivated to help our young men
and young people in general to make better
decisions and have better outcomes.
If you are going to get into this type of
work, make sure that you are doing it for
the right reasons. The populations such
as the ones we try to assist have been
abused. We try not to be yet another
source of disappointment to our con-
stituents. This is a highly sacrificial course.
It is not something to pursue for personal
gain or to earn points. The reward to be
had is seeing the changed lives that are
Continues on Page B7
WITH NASSER KHAN
Atiba Phillips is the founder of
the Community HUB, a non-profit
organisation dedicated to change
through the development of
youth and communities.
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