Business Excellence awards to honor local contributions

A nine-category “Academy Awards” for business excellence is scheduled for Oct. 14 at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, celebrating the best of local entrepreneurs and a single individual singled out for a lifetime achievement honor.

Created by the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and event partner Digicel, the Business Excellence Awards will honor businesses and their owners – drawn from the organization’s 700-plus members – that have contributed most to the Cayman community in the past year.

Chamber CEO Wil Pineau told the Journal that local businesses, especially Chamber members, are “not getting the recognition they deserve. The business community in Cayman is vibrant and constantly giving back to our community, so we wanted to create an event to celebrate and recognize their achievements.”

The Chamber has often marked member contributions in private “Chamber Champions” ceremonies at the annual general meeting.

Pineau said the organization had considered a broader program several years ago, but this “has been a year or so in the making.”

For years, he said, “Chambers of Commerce around the world have introduced awards programs to acknowledge best business and community initiatives … so the [Cayman Chamber’s] Council felt it was a perfect time to introduce a similar program for our membership.”

“Many of them,” he said, “contribute discreetly to community initiatives, invest in workforce and education projects and support efforts to protect and preserve the environment by adopting green practices. We want to share these practices and celebrate these contributions and successes.”

Pineau said the executive committee, Chamber staff, and partner Digicel, created the categories after “considerable deliberation.”

“We wanted to celebrate best-business practices. We wanted to focus more on the aspects of corporate-social responsibility rather than pitting businesses against one another.”

An eight-member Board of Review, including a member of the Chamber council, a representative from one of the event or award sponsors, an expert in the particular field under scrutiny and other individuals selected by the executive committee, will review unlimited nominations in each category: small business of the year; community service project of the year; the eco warrior award; innovation award; outstanding workforce development initiative; commitment to education award; marketing campaign of the year; lifetime achievement award; and business of the year.

According to the event’s website,, the lifetime achievement will go to an individual “who has shown outstanding support to the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce and local business community,” and has been associated with the organization for at least 10 years.

The business of the year, the material says, will reward the enterprise that has “shown outstanding corporate social responsibility, has excelled in treatment and training of staff, has provided unrivalled customer service, and has proven commitment to the development of the Cayman Islands community,” between Jan. 1, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017.

Pineau says nominations – closing in mid-September – have attracted significant support.

“There has been a lot of interest in applying. The great thing is that there is a category for everyone, meaning that all [Chamber] businesses eligible to participate have an opportunity to get involved.”

He said the submissions remain confidential until the list of applicants is announced after the deadline.

The awards vary across the categories. Pineau says the two finalists in each will receive a Grand Award, and a trophy will go to the company “that has completed the best project.”

“Some awards will also have additional prizes,” he said, pointing to Yellow Pages publisher Yello, which is sponsoring the small business of the year award.

Yello will award the winner a “comprehensive media and marketing package,” he says. “We also plan to promote the winners during the year and to share details of the best practices so that all businesses can learn about them.”

The Chamber hopes the Business Excellence Awards will be an annual effort “as we feel that businesses should be celebrated and acknowledged regularly,” Pineau said. “The hope is that the BEAs maintain a permanent spot on the calendar,” he said.