Bridging the Gap for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Saint Lucia

The Caribbean Export Development Agency team met with Saint Lucia’s Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable Emma Hippolyte, and stakeholders from Business Support Organisations on July 14, 2022. The in-depth discussions revolved around the execution of capacity-building and technical assistance initiatives Caribbean Export could immediately offer to meet the specific and pressing needs of Saint Lucian MSMEs.

Minister Hippolyte also stated her interest in working closely with Caribbean Export to identify capacity-building programmes to assist firms with export potential, particularly in the agro-processing sector, to bridge the gaps, making them export-ready.

The team recommended several innovative ways to address challenges experienced by firms in meeting the standards and regulatory requirements for exporting.

Minister Hippolyte welcomed the recommendations and expressed appreciation for support provided to the country’s priority sectors and Allyson Francis, Services Specialist at Caribbean Export, reiterated the Agency’s commitment to Saint Lucia’s private sector development.

The team led by Allyson Francis – Services Specialist, included Natasha Edwin-Walcott – Senior Advisor –  Competitiveness & Export Promotion; Mikaela Stoute – Research Officer- Market Intelligence; Marvin Baptiste– Consultant; Tonya Cummins– Programme Advisor- Grants and Deidre Brathwaite– Digital and Social Media Officer.

The Caribbean Export-Saint Lucia mission occurred from July 11-14, 2022.

Regional MSMEs Ready to Leverage CARIFORUM Trade Agreements

More Caribbean business owners are better equipped to leverage CARIFORUM Trade Agreements after an intensive 2-day workshop held by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in collaboration with Export Saint Lucia.

Caribbean Export’s Services Specialist Allyson Francis and Sunita Daniel, CEO of Export Saint Lucia, implored the participants to take full advantage of the learning opportunity, which provides critical information to support their business’ access to the United Kingdom and European Union.

The workshop, which included presenters from both Agencies, also drew on the expertise of trade policy professionals from the Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS, CARICOM and CARIFORUM and The Office of Trade Negotiations (OTN).

The participants remarked on the wealth of information shared over July 12 and 13, 2022, noting that the workshop allowed them to understand how the trade agreements work and the requirements to more effectively align their operations to access export opportunities and grow their businesses.

The Caribbean Export-Saint Lucia mission occurred from July 11-14, 2022.

The team led by Allyson Francis – Services Specialist, included Mikaela Stoute – Research Officer- Market Intelligence; Marvin Baptiste– Junior Consultant; Tonya Cummins– Programme Advisor- Grants and Deidre Brathwaite– Digital and Social Media Officer.

I AM CARICOM – Are You?

I am,

Je suis,

Ik ben

CARICOM!

The CARICOM identity and spirit of community are observed and celebrated each year on the 4th of July – CARICOM Day.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be engaging and sharing with the community to bring greater awareness, visibility and understanding of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the role of Caribbean Export within the CARICOM architecture and the benefits of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and regional trade.

Join us in the celebrations by downloading the ‘I AM CARICOM’ banner and sharing it on social media and within your community.

Remember to tag @caribxport @caribbeanexport @caricomorg and #IAMCARICOM

Read more about ‘I AM CARICOM’ on CARICOM TODAY

Supporting MSMEs in the Services Sector

Traditional agriculture and manufacturing economies of the Caribbean have slowly morphed into flexible fast paced service led economies which proliferate the region today. Services are crucial for further developing Caribbean countries, providing a strong economic dynamism and creating the source for job creation and welfare1 . In 2019, 60.2% of the total value added to GDP in Latin America and the Caribbean was generated by the services industry2 . Globally, services account for US$876 billion and in the Caribbean, services account for approximately 65% of our Gross Domestic Product. There is room for services to grow and become a better generator of jobs and foreign exchange in areas such as business and professional services, music, fashion, animation and film, and outsourcing to contribute towards the economic transformation of the Caribbean.

According to the Caribbean Development Bank, MSMEs represent between 70-85% of Caribbean businesses and contribute between 60-70% of Gross Domestic Product. Critically, they account for an estimated 50% of total employment. In view of this, innovation needs to be the driving force behind service industries in order to create jobs. Encouraging online and digital innovation will simultaneously contribute to the inclusion of, and employment for young people and economic diversification. The development of the services sector is a 21st century solution to an age-old problem and should be viewed as an instrument by which Caribbean countries can accelerate their development, providing a strong economic dynamism and creating the source for job creation and welfare.

One sector which has a wealth of MSMEs is tourism, and despite the quest for diversification, tourism as a service remains at the forefront of Caribbean economies. MSMEs providing services auxiliary to tourism, such as tour operators and tour guides, restaurants, taxi, photography, event planners etc., and contribute to the entire tourism product and experience and must be supported.

In addition, music and services surrounding music production generate a suite of employment opportunities by MSMEs. The global music industry is estimated to be valued at US$131 billion in 2030 (Goldman Sachs). Caribbean Export has supported this sector through our Business of Music training programme and music writing and production training. Both programmes offer emerging and established musicians the opportunity to enhance their technical capacity and integration into the global music industry, ultimately creating more jobs.

Another area that offers potential to create jobs by MSMEs is animation and film. Both sectors saw a steady boost in revenue over the past year, particularly during the continuous COVID-19 lockdowns. The animation industry in 2020 was worth approximately US$270 billion globally, while the film industry lies at US$ 34 billion. Additionally, streaming services grew by 37% with a global value of US$50 billion in 2020, therefore providing a great opportunity for Caribbean content creators to showcase our unique Caribbean culture in amination, games and films which can be a significant revenue earner for our region.

It is therefore imperative that we build the capacity of our regional content creators in these industries to harness all the opportunities available to them in the global market. In these areas, Caribbean Export has provided significant support, with the numerous animation accelerators which focused on 2D and 3D animation. Moreover, our recent support to the participation of 12 animators, gamers and film makers to the Annecy Animation Film Festival 2022 demonstrates Caribbean Export’s readiness to propel the region into non-tourism linked services. These actions have helped to develop the skills and content of our animators to accelerate into the international market. Emphasis was also placed on the film industry to help build the capacity of scriptwriters and film producers with a three-month training programme aimed at developing scripts and content for the global market. There will be opportunities to further showcase these developments and engage in B2B in an upcoming international film festival.

The region also seeks to develop its green economy, which is to a large extent led by the services sector in areas such as research and development, engineering, design and technology services, services auxiliary to electricity distribution, installation and maintenance and repair services amongst others. Whilst many of these services are delivered by larger technological companies, more often specific services are outsourced to MSMEs who may have local knowledge and specialized skills to provide the required support.

Finally, for the sustainable development of our services sector, digitalisation is key for small businesses to leverage the global online marketplace, as well as giving these MSMEs a greater chance to compete internationally. MSMEs in the ICT sector play a crucial role in supporting small business digitalisation.

In summary, the Caribbean must embrace services as a viable option and look to areas such as business, cultural and recreational services where we leverage the strengths of our MSMEs and the natural creativity of our people. Caribbean Export believes that Services is the next frontier for Caribbean business. We believe that goods and services that are Absolutely Caribbean will create excitement in the marketplace and opportunities for our people.

[1] Innovation and the New Service Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean. IADB (2013)

[2] The services industry comprises of tourism (including hotels and restaurants), financial, professional and personal services such as education, health care, and real estate Statista. (2021)

Greening the Economy – The Path to Sustainable Caribbean Private Sector Development

An inclusive green economy approach will offer a multitude of opportunities for Caribbean economies to achieve sustainable development.

To this end, opportunities in the green economy will be an area of major development focus of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH collaboration over the next 3-5 years.

The importance of the green sector was the central topic of the discussions during a hybrid meeting between GIZ and Caribbean Export at the Agency’s headquarters on June 15, 2022. The meeting sought to explore synergies and discuss future collaborations in private sector development and global projects.

During the discussions, Mrs Blickwede, the Regional Director of GIZ Caribbean, reiterated the importance of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) “as a wonderful base for fostering private sector development, broadening and increasing market opportunities and creating employment for the private sector”. Mrs Blickwede continued by expressing her satisfaction with the many positive results created because of the focused nature of the Caribbean Export/GIZ collaboration.

Caribbean Export and GIZ have been working together for more than a decade, and Mr Maharaj praised the longstanding and fruitful partnership that has included several successful initiatives specifically the Business Forum in 2019, that sought to develop international partnerships for Caribbean exporters in key sectors of agro-processing, natural products, and the creative industries.

The GIZ is the governmental-owned German development agency and works in over 120 countries.

Results, Results, Results

2021 Annual Results Report European Launch

Following the successful regional launch of its 2021 Annual Results Report on May 5, 2022, Executive Director, Deodat Maharaj and Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion travelled to Brussels to present the report. The team shared the results report with the CARIFORUM ambassadors, European Union counterparts and regional stakeholders in Brussels on May 12, 2022.

The report which presents the outcomes, results and the impact the Agency achieved during 2021 was well received by the audience in attendance.

Mr Maharaj extended thanks to Ambassador Joy-Ann Skinner and her team at the Embassy of Barbados for organizing the event which attracted a global audience. He stated, “We have received results, where they matter, on the ground improving the lives of Caribbean people thanks to the support and strong partnership of the European Union.”

https://youtu.be/PgjWGKMTN2o
Interview with Deodat Maharaj

During the mission, the team also had the opportunity to meet with HE Symone Betton-Nayo, the Jamaican ambassador to Belgium, to further discussions on support activities for the export of Blue Mountain Coffee.

Stakeholder Engagement in Trinidad & Tobago

During the week, May 9-13, 2022, a Caribbean Export team travelled to Trinidad to host a 3-day ProNET workshop focused on Export Marketing. This was the first in a series of capacity-building projects which will be held in partnership with Republic Bank Ltd. Due to its interactive nature, the workshop was limited to 16 participants and received excellent feedback from attendees.

The team also met and had fruitful discussions with Mr Harrypersad, exportTT General Manager Client Services and his team about potential joint capacity-building and trade promotion initiatives

Other highlights of the visit included meetings and site visits with several 2021 DSGP beneficiaries which were essential to fast track the review of documentation and expedite the disbursement process and meetings with the exportTT communications team.

The Caribbean Export team to Trinidad included: Natasha Edwin- Walcott- Senior Advisor- Competitiveness & Export Promotion, Tonya Cummins– Programme advisor- Grants and Deidre Brathwaite– Digital and Social Media Officer.

Opportunities to Invest in the Caribbean (Dubai, CIF22): Interview from Ms. Annette Mark, President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies

The Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (CAIPA) promotes investment in the Caribbean. CAIPA facilitates the development of studies, resources, and guides that can be used by investors, site selectors, business executives, and professionals.

CAIPA is 23 members strong and came to the Caribbean Investment Forum (March 2022 in Dubai) with several priority sectors that they were looking for investments such as Tourism, Agriculture, ICT, and the Creative sectors.

According to Annette Mark, President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies, “Those are our main drivers for investment promotion throughout the Caribbean”.

At the Caribbean Investment Forum, Ms. Mark expressed her happiness to be in the UAE as she does believe that there has not been enough exposure of CAIPA members within the UAE, and the UAE itself is an untapped market for CAIPA.

“There’s a lot of liquidity after the covid pandemic and we believe that this conference together with Expo 20 Dubai has given us that opportunity to be on the ground and make contact with a number of agencies, high networked persons, and of course investing in the Caribbean.”

For Ms. Mark, the Caribbean is a safe destination with strong governments and laws protecting investors’ rights. The region is diversifying and growing industries. A growing demand for products and services has opened immense opportunities for investors to find an interest in growing or developing their business in the Caribbean. 

Watch the full interview from Ms. Annette Mark, President of the Caribbean Association of Investment Promotion Agencies.

Investment opportunities in the Caribbean – Ms. Racquel Moses

Caribbean Export came to Dubai because it recognized the importance of getting investments from nontraditional sources. Of course, it is important to consolidate the traditional sources of investments, but in these challenging and new times, different areas and different sources of investment are worth taking a look at.

One important factor that needs to be considered is that as the Caribbean seeks to transition from Covid 19 and to build a new and green economy, focus needs to be made on new areas.

That’s why Caribbean Export worked on a package of projects such as technology, E-commerce, agriculture, and renewables because these are priority areas for us in the Caribbean.

Caribbean Export was delighted to have over 250 participants and investors from across the United Arab Emirates joining us at the Caribbean Investment Forum in Dubai as the intention is to build on this foundation and continue to work closely, to be able to generate investment from places like the United Arab Emirates to create jobs and opportunities for our people.

When interviewed about the opportunities for investment in the Caribbean, Racquel Moses, CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator answered:

“As a region, we have very ambitious goals related to the Paris commitment. Together we are at about 17% on average with outliers like Costa Rica, which can run almost exclusively on renewable energy. The rest of the region is eager to join Costa Rica in this race. We have opportunities for Geothermal, wasted energy, wave, wind, and certainly lots of solar. There are so many opportunities. We really hope that we get investors who want to be joint venture partners or who want to invest just money to be able to help us with this energy transition.”

Racquel Moses is CEO of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. She has served in several executive-level positions at large multinational organizations and Caribbean leadership organizations including country head of Microsoft Trinidad and Tobago and the regional director of the public sector for Microsoft Caribbean, portfolio head Europe and Americas and Head of Caribbean and International projects for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), president of InvesTT Trinidad and Tobago as well as leadership positions within JP Morgan Chase, Cable & Wireless and Fujitsu.

Caribbean Export Ready to Deliver Invaluable Support to Suriname

Last week (April 20-22) Caribbean Export moved ahead with charting their new path of support with the Surinamese private sector. 

An intensive three-day mission to Suriname to advance programming quickly came on the heels of the recently held discussions with the high-level delegation that visited Caribbean Export’s Headquarters in Barbados on April 7, 2022. 

The Caribbean Export team followed-up discussions with H.E Rishma Kuldipsingh – Minister of Economic Affairs, Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation and H.E. Parmanand Sewdien -Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries and their respective teams.  During the mission, the team also met with officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and the Ministry of Finance, the Suriname Trade and Industry Association and others to discuss priority areas in agriculture, trade and investment.  

Caribbean Export agreed on several areas of support, including commissioning a study of the export potential for the poultry industry, advancing discussions on the first ever Suriname Virtual Investment Forum, Market Intelligence Training for Business Support Organisations and assistance for their Creatives Industries Forum in November 2022. The team members also shared their expert advice on packaging investment opportunities and the Suriname Investment & Trade Agency’s products. 

Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion expressed satisfaction at the level of progress made during the short visit and shared that ‘new programming initiatives focused on building the capacity of the Surinamese private sector would be executed as early as July 2022’.   

The technical team led by Dr. Damie Sinanan included Suzette Hudson, Senior Advisor- Investment Promotion and Mikaela Stoute– Research Officer. 

Follow Caribbean Export on Twitter for updates. 

Caribbean Export and Suriname Chart New Path

“We are excited to ramp up collaboration with Suriname to improve the export competitiveness of its private sector as well as attract foreign direct investment to the country.” says Mr. Deodat Maharaj – Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export).

Mr. Maharaj made these remarks, on April 7, 2022, as Caribbean Export welcomed a high-level delegation from Suriname led by HE Albert R Ramdin – Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation to its headquarters at Baobab Towers, Bridgetown, Barbados.

The delegation also comprised HE Armand Achaibersingh – Minister of Finance and Planning and HE Parmanand Sewdien – Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries as well as members of the Surinamese diplomatic corps and private sector representatives.

It was agreed that Caribbean Export will provide support to Suriname in several key areas in the coming 6 to 8 months. These include assistance to strengthen the investment promotion capacity; direct support to business enterprises; support to the creative sector and in market requirements to enable penetration of new markets.

To fast-track this collaboration, it was decided that a technical mission from Caribbean Export will visit Suriname the week of April 18- 22, 2022.

On behalf of Suriname, Minister Ramdin thanked Caribbean Export for the constructive engagement and agreed on the path forward, noting that “Caribbean Export is highly necessary … as we are trying to reboot our economy [and] export is a major part of that.” He continued, “…there are several ways that Caribbean Export can support Suriname’s private sector… in technical assistance, information sharing, on the ground assistance as well as assistance with organising our export promotion agency.”

Caribbean Export meets with Bahamian Stakeholders to Discuss Vital Export Opportunities for SMEs

The Caribbean Export Development Agency remains committed to engaging with its stakeholders and providing targeted support to meet the needs of the private sector.

To this end, Services Specialist, Allyson Francis, led a Caribbean Export team to engage with various stakeholders, learn more about their specific needs and outline available initiatives and programmes.

The Honourable Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs met with the Caribbean Export team and engaged in fruitful, in-depth discussions which focused on the cultural and creative sectors and addressed the potential opportunities for digitizing Bahamian fashion as a viable avenue for export.

During the March 30 meeting, the Minister also expressed interest in collaborating in the priority areas of energy management, agritech, food security and the blue economy.

Discussions were also held with the Director of Culture on potential fashion initiatives, and Business Support Organizations including the Small Business Development Center and the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation to discuss support for the private sector.

Other highlights of the visit included the 2- day Market Intelligence workshop which had over 30 registrants, the Business of Music Closing Ceremony which was attended by the Minister of Culture, Honourable Mario K Bowleg and Honourable Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs and several visits to the Agency’s grant beneficiaries (DSGP and TAP) including D’vanya’s Manufacturing, Limeade Bahamas and Pulpy Frozen Desserts.

Ms Francis said of the week-long mission, March 28- April 1 2022, “It has been great listening to all of our stakeholders and discussing areas of focused support. I’m excited that they will coordinate and collaborate to develop a cohesive plan that will create vital export opportunities for the Bahamian private sector.”

The mission team, which was led by Services Specialist, Allyson Francis, included: Tonya Cummins- Programme Advisor- GrantsMikaela Stoute- Research Officer and Deidre Brathwaite- Digital and Social Media Officer.

From April 4, 2022, the team travelled to St. Kitts and Nevis. 

Follow the Caribbean Export on Twitter for updates as they happen.