Caribbean Investment Forum 2024 in Guyana: A Resounding Success

From July 10-12, 2024, the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) in Guyana has highlighted the significance of establishing effective public-private partnerships within the Caribbean region. During the forum’s third day, there was not just a call, but a resounding demand for a transformative approach to investment finance for regional opportunities, inspiring hope and confidence in the audience.

CIF 2024 was hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) under the theme ‘Transforming Our Future, Empowering Growth’ in collaboration the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the European Union, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Development Bank. The event attracted over 450 participants who came together to discuss sustainable agriculture and the green economy agenda. This strategic initiative by Caribbean Export was designed to bridge the gap between global investors and Caribbean opportunities, instilling confidence in the region’s investment potential.

Oneidge Walrond, Guyana’s Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, hailed the event as a resounding success in her closing remarks. She expressed gratitude on behalf of the Government of Guyana for hosting such a significant event, emphasizing the forum’s role in facilitating crucial discussions on regional and global trade barriers, sustainable agriculture, digitalization of business, and the transition to a green economy, all of which are key topics in the current investment landscape.

Minister Walrond highlighted the evolving dynamics of trade, pointing to a shift in investor focus towards non-traditional markets. “The government of Guyana is fully aware of the importance of this forum for the sustainable development of our Caribbean region. CIF has once again provided a dedicated space for global and regional interactions, many of which we hope to evolve into long-lasting partnerships and business relationships,” she said.

Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, Guyana’s Chief Investment Officer, presented an optimistic outlook on Guyana’s investment landscape for 2030 and beyond. He identified opportunities in the agriculture sector to achieve regional self-sufficiency in food production through Agri-tech and large-scale farming. Dr. Ramsaroop emphasized the value of Guyana’s investment, urging Caribbean countries to develop products that can reach the wider world. “We in the Caribbean call ourselves small states, but if we look at ourselves together, we are not small. [The Caribbean] has quite a bit of investment opportunities,” he noted.

Delegates from the public and private sectors gained insights from Elizabeth Martinez de Marcano, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Regional Director for Colombia, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. She stressed the importance of strategic investments to unlock the full potential of Small Island Developing States through innovation and sustainability. Martinez de Marcano highlighted the uneven economic performance across the Caribbean, noting that some countries are expected to grow while others face economic contractions due to political instability and lack of economic diversification. “Partnerships are crucial for a sustainable impact, especially in smaller markets,” she stated.

Ms. Martinez de Marcano highlighted how the World Bank Group collaborates closely with other development partners to support this goal. “IFC plays a vital role in enhancing Caribbean states’ resilience and long-term sustainability by facilitating private investor access to these markets,” she noted. Over the past decade, IFC has invested $838 million in the Caribbean to bolster the private sector’s role and is committed to increasing this support in the future.

Another highlight of the day was Kerryne James, Grenada’s Minister for Climate Resilience, the Environment, and Renewable Energy, who stressed the need for innovative investment strategies to foster sustainable development in the Caribbean.

During the Ministerial spotlight, ‘Fostering Sustainable Development Through Innovative Investment Strategies in The Caribbean: Opportunities and Challenges,’ moderated by Dr. Damie Sinanan, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, the Minister called for action to promote climate resilience, robust climate financing, and the involvement of both the public and private sectors in mainstreaming climate resilience, especially after the devastating Hurricane Beryl. “We need action, and it is vital that we act now; we cannot wait for another disaster. We have to talk less and act more because small state islands are represented at forums like CIF,” she said.

At the ‘Fireside Chat—Pioneering Impact Investment: Transforming Strategies for Social Good,’ Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive Officer, Impact Investing Institute, connected with the delegated and, through his expertise and experience, pointed them in the right direction regarding navigating impact investments.

There was an update on the Connect Caribé Summit (“Navigating New Horizons: Bridging Travel, Trade, and E-Commerce Across the Caribbean”). The summit is scheduled in Bridgetown, Barbados, on July 23rd and 24th at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. H.E. Ambassador Dr. Andre Thomas, Chairman & CEO of Pleion Group Inc., the Parent Group of Connect Caribe, delivered the update. He shared progress on the Ferry project following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Caribbean Export. This latest MOU highlights the crucial role of connecting investors with Caribbean businesses.

To bring the curtains down on CIF 2024, there were country presentations and Q&A session presentations by Pro Dominicana and the Dominican Republic UNIDO, MSME Invest Turks & Caicos, Investments InvesTT, Invest Barbados, St Kitts Investment Promotion Agency, Grenada Investment Development Corporation, and Invest Dominica Authority.

The Caribbean Investment Forum successfully brought together key stakeholders and experts to explore new investment opportunities, regional collaborations, and strategies for fostering sustainable and resilient economies in the Caribbean region.

Therefore, this demonstrates that the Caribbean region is at a pivotal moment, embracing transformative approaches to investment finance that can catalyze sustainable development and prosperity for all. From sustainable agriculture to the digitalization of business and the transition to a green economy, the region is ready to champion a sustainable revolution, demonstrating the efficacy of innovative solutions to drive prosperity and resilience.


The concept of a “green economy” has been building momentum as nations around the world seek more holistic ways to achieve economic growth while simultaneously mitigating the impacts of climate change and maintaining sustainable development.

Across the Caribbean, the transition towards green economies is well underway. Countries like Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Guyana and others have already begun implementing national development plans which feature green economy principles.

Furthermore, regional entities such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have helped to set regional green energy targets and the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) has established an open-ended working group on green energy initiatives with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). These steps have set the region on a pathway to the establishment of robust green economies. However, there is much more work to be done to realise their full potential.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a green economy can be defined as one which is “low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive. In a green economy, growth in employment and income are driven by public and private investment into such economic activities, infrastructure and assets that allow reduced carbon emissions and pollution, enhanced energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

Meanwhile, as was noted in the 2014  Green Economy Action Learning Group’s Green Economies in the Caribbean Country Report, Caribbean stakeholders have characterised a green economy as one that is “equitable in its distribution of economic benefits and costs; productive in its management of ecological resources; investing in resilience to climate change and other external shocks; pro-poor, generating decent jobs and working conditions for local people; aiming to create a regional economy that is self-directed and self-reliant, resistant to foreign control; [and] rooted specifically in the rich local culture of the Caribbean.”

Regional leaders are therefore tasked with ushering in a new economic paradigm that puts the well-being of the environment and people at the centre of economic activity. This requires strong political will and strategic policy decisions. Already, with the adoption of green energy technologies in several Caribbean countries – including wind and solar farms – the stage has been set for a steady reduction in dependence on fossil fuels, and reduced expenditure on such products. This, in turn, will play a substantial role in reducing the Caribbean’s carbon footprint and protecting the environment.

Meanwhile, job creation is one way in which the shift to green economies can deliver substantial opportunities for Caribbean people. Projections by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) suggest that Latin America and the Caribbean could gain 15 million new net jobs by 2030 in sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, forestry, construction and manufacturing, by promoting a zero net emissions economy rather than following current trends.

With the transition requiring large-scale infrastructural development and the integration of new technologies, new opportunities are emerging for people to find work. As was stated in an article produced by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), “In the Caribbean, key sectors for greening include agriculture, construction, energy, fisheries, manufacturing, tourism, transportation, and water”. As the greening of these sectors occur, there will be further opportunities for Caribbean people to find new forms of work.”

Key to the region’s transition to a green economy will be the development of robust policy and legal frameworks, the political will to drive innovation and social change, and the development of strategic public/private partnerships. The Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2024 is one space in which such policies can be shaped, the will and foresight of political leaders assessed, and strategic partnerships realised.

The third iteration of the seminal event developed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) will be held in Guyana from July 10 – 12, 2024, bringing together global investors, innovators, industry leaders and policymakers to discuss opportunities across four key tracks – the Green Economy Transition, Sustainable Agriculture, Digitalization of Business, and Sustainable Development.

Within its packed, progressive agenda, CIF Guyana 2024 will feature a Green Economy Transition Exhibition which will include two Green Living Hub presentations as well as a short presentation on “Greening the Future: Transitioning to a Sustainable Economy.” There will also be a feature presentation on Charting the Course: Accelerating the Green Revolution in the Caribbean – A Forward-Thinking Blueprint for Government Action.

The ministerial roundtable on Fostering Sustainable Development Through Innovative Investment Strategies in the Caribbean: Opportunities and Challenges also promises to offer insightful perspectives from regional leadership on the broader issue of sustainable development. It will be moderated by Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Dr. Damie Sinanan, and include perspectives from Grenada’s Minister of Climate Resilience, the Environment, and Renewable Energy, the Honourable Kerryn James; Guyana’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Zulfikar Mustapha; and Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investments, Senator, the Honourable Chad Blackman.

Furthermore, attendees will discover exciting projects unfolding across the region during the country presentations and learn about investment facilities and global funds that can be accessed to realise transformative projects.

Be part of CIF 2024 in Guyana to discover how the green economy transition is unfolding across the Caribbean and how you can contribute to the transformation.

Register now at! Join us at the CIF 2024 in Guyana!

How Consumers Are Driving Move Towards Sustainable Agriculture Processes

Consumers around the world are demanding more from the agricultural sector.

Today there is more information available about what goes into producing food and an enhanced awareness of the environmental impact and carbon footprint left from its production. Armed with this knowledge, consumers have been demanding that more environmentally responsible and ethically sound practices be used in growing crops and raising livestock.

In a paper produced by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) on the role of consumer preferences in agricultural production practices, the authors noted, “Overall, consumers in the 21st century have changed dramatically. They now demand to know everything they can about what they consume: who produces the food, how it is produced and how it is distributed. There is a growing desire to know more about the primary production process and to establish a special connection with agriculture. Humans wish to feel safe in every dimension, which also extends to food; ensuring a healthy diet and avoiding foodborne diseases has become the trend.”

In the Caribbean, consumers have become increasingly aware of both the economic and environmental costs of food importation. They are also aware of the linkages between the quantity and quality of the food they consume, and the incidence of chronic, non-communicable diseases plaguing their communities. These facts, among other things, are shaping and changing their food demands.

In a 2020 article on Lonely Planet that reviewed how some Caribbean islands were supporting sustainable agriculture, it was noted that the demand for local produce and sustainable seafood in Grand Cayman had “grown exponentially, creating a circular effect in which farms utilising greenhouses and fishermen abiding by eco-friendly practices now have increased capital to expand their operations.”

In the article, Executive Chef at the Kimpton Seafire in Grand Cayman, Massimo De Francesca, explained, “In Grand Cayman, we have a great outpouring of community encouragement for local farmers markets to showcase locally grown food items and sell products at local stands.”

This is just one example of how local demand for sustainably grown or harvested food is creating opportunities for the sector. It’s also proof that sustainable practices can be viable and profitable in the long run.

Consumers are also calling for more organic produce, free of harsh chemicals. Regional farmers, in turn, have been shifting to organic farming, transforming their operations and gaining certifications as organic producers. Furthermore, as more people recognise the importance and benefits of sustainable farming practices, innovative agripreneurs have emerged. They are creating sustainable, eco-friendly solutions that are advancing organic farming practices.

The choices and demands that consumers are making are forcing the evolution of the agricultural sector across the region. However, there is much more work to be done in order to realise the full potential of sustainable agriculture for individual islands and the region as a whole.

That’s why sustainable agriculture is one of the key issues that will be addressed at the upcoming  Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2024. The third iteration of the seminal event developed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) will be held in Guyana from July 10 – 12, 2024, bringing together global investors, innovators, industry leaders and policymakers to discuss opportunities across four key tracks – Sustainable Agriculture, Green Economy Transition, Digitalization of Business, and Sustainable Development.

The panel discussion “Fields of Fortune: Investing in Sustainable Agriculture for a Flourishing Caribbean” will be particularly beneficial to attendees seeking to engage regional partners or find investors for agricultural projects. The moderator will be the General Manager of Guyana Marketing Corporation, Teshawan Lall. Panelists include: Sustainable Agriculture, Food & Innovation, Entrepreneur, Consultant, Jody White; Director – Investments US International Development Finance Corporation, Patrick Starr; Head of Agribusiness, IDB Invest, Carlos Eduardo Narvaez; and Chief Executive Officer Latitude Geospatial, Dr. Haimwant Persaud.

The Sustainable Agriculture Showcase is also sure to draw great interest from attendees and will feature a blitz presentation from White on Harvesting Hope: Sustainable Agriculture, and two Farm-to-Table Marketplace presentations.

Be part of CIF 2024 to discover how sustainable agricultural practices are evolving in the Caribbean and how you can contribute to the transformation.

Register now at! Join us at the CIF 2024 in Guyana!

Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce from Belize Makes a Splash in the Dominican Republic

In the vibrant world of culinary delights, nothing quite ignites the senses like a dash of hot pepper sauce. And when it comes to igniting taste buds, Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce from Belize is a name that stands out. Recently, this fiery condiment made its much-anticipated debut in the Dominican Republic, following its successful showcase at HUB Santo Domingo 2022. Sponsored by Caribbean Export through the 11th EDF regional private sector programme financed by the EU, Marie Sharp’s journey to the Dominican market is not only about flavor but also about collaboration and support. Let’s delve into the story behind the introduction of Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce to the Dominican Republic and the sizzle it’s bringing to tables across the country.

A Taste of Belize in the Dominican Republic

Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce isn’t just any hot sauce; it’s a culinary masterpiece crafted with passion and tradition in Belize. Established in the early 1980s by Marie Sharp herself, a humble school teacher turned entrepreneur, the brand has become synonymous with quality, flavor, and authenticity.

Marie Sharp’s journey began in the verdant landscape of Belize, where she cultivated her own habanero peppers on her family farm. Drawing inspiration from traditional recipes passed down through generations, she began experimenting with different combinations of ingredients, striving to create a hot sauce that would capture the essence of Belizean cuisine.

A Culinary Sensation

From its humble beginnings, Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce quickly gained popularity among locals and visitors alike. Its bold flavors and unique blend of habanero peppers, carrots, onions, and other natural ingredients set it apart from mass-produced hot sauces, earning it a loyal following and cult status within Belize.

As demand for Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce grew, so did its reputation beyond Belize’s borders. Exported to countries around the world, it introduced global audiences to the vibrant flavors of Belizean cuisine, garnering acclaim and awards along the way.

Cultural Exchange Through Cuisine

The introduction of Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce to the Dominican Republic represents more than just a new condiment on the shelf; it symbolizes a cultural exchange between two Caribbean nations. Through the shared love of food and flavors, it bridges gaps and fosters connections, enriching culinary traditions and sparking new culinary adventures.

As Dominican chefs and home cooks embrace Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce, they embark on a flavorful journey that transcends borders. It’s not just about adding heat to dishes; it’s about celebrating diversity, embracing new flavors, and forging bonds through a shared appreciation for good food.

Looking Ahead

As Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce continues to make waves in the Dominican Republic, the future looks promising. With its commitment to quality, authenticity, and innovation, it’s poised to become a staple condiment in Dominican households, adding a touch of Belizean flair to traditional dishes and culinary creations.

Moreover, its success serves as a reminder of the power of passion, perseverance, and a little bit of spice in shaping culinary landscapes and bringing people together. So, the next time you’re in the Dominican Republic and craving a culinary adventure, be sure to reach for a bottle of Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce. It’s more than just a condiment; it’s a taste of Belizean tradition and a journey to fiery flavors.

The introduction of Marie Sharp’s Hot Pepper Sauce from Belize to the Dominican Republic marks an exciting chapter in the world of Caribbean cuisine. Through its rich history, bold flavors, and commitment to quality, Marie Sharp’s has captured the hearts and taste buds of food enthusiasts around the world, proving that great taste knows no boundaries.

EU-LAC Partnerships: Unveiling the Learnings and Opportunities

Open Call #1 Results and Insights

The results of the first Open Call for EU-LAC Partnerships are now available, bringing to light valuable insights and lessons from our initial wave of business collaborations between Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This month’s newsletter dives into the activity on our matching platform, the applications received, the selected partnerships, and the sectors they represent.

Our Matching Platform: A Hub for Innovators

🚀 Over 1,000 EU-LACkers! Our Matching Platform has become a bustling hub with over 1,000 innovators actively expanding their business networks. This platform is where startups and corporates meet, share challenges, and form partnerships to drive innovation. Ready to grow your network? Join our community here!

Open Call #1: Applications and Selections

We received 18 applications for EU-LAC partnerships, all aimed at accelerating business collaboration from proof-of-concept to scaling up. These partnerships began with corporates identifying challenges and seeking digital solutions through our matching platform. Startups then connected with these corporates, leading to the formation of EU-LAC partnerships.

Selected Partnerships: We have selected 10 partnerships in this first open call, focused on smart production challenges. These partnerships will receive 6-month in-kind acceleration services valued at up to 30,000 euros to foster growth and innovation. (Note: 2 partnerships are still under revision.)

Open Call #1: Regional Insights

Our corporate venturing model spans Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Here’s a breakdown of the applications:

  • Europe: 100% of applications involve a partner from Europe.
  • Latin America: 80% (16 applications) involve a partner from Latin America.
  • Caribbean: 20% (3 applications) involve a partner from the Caribbean.

Subscribe to the EU-LAC Newsletter and see on this new edition interesting information on To Do’s for Corporates: Innovating Collaboratively, Regional Highlights, and more!

Remember to join our Network by subscribing to the emailing Newsletter that we release every two-month with project updates and opportunities!

Upcoming Open Call: Cleantech Sector

Ready to make a positive impact on our planet? Our next call for EU-LAC partnerships will focus on the cleantech sector. European, Latin American, and Caribbean corporates facing sustainability challenges are invited to share them on our matching platform. We aim to connect you with startups offering digital solutions that enhance performance, reduce ecological impact, and improve resource use.

Share your challenge here! Link to platform

Let’s begin a new wave of EU-LAC business partnerships committed to fostering a positive impact on our planet!

Economic Emancipation Through the Africa-Caribbean Partnership

The convening power of the African-Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) was on full display last week as twenty-five current and former Heads of State from the continent and the Caribbean, Ministers and Heads of International Agencies, Aliko Dangote, Jeffrey Sachs, Viola Davis, Wyclef Jean, Rick Ross, Folakwe Olowofoyeku, Boris Kodjoe, and numerous other global brands and renowned individuals, descended on Nassau the Bahamas from 12 – 15 June, for the Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meeting (AAM) and the third AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF). The theme – ‘Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa’.

In recent years, Caribbean-Africa relations have been building momentum. In 2021, the inaugural Caribbean Community (CARICOM)-Africa Summit was held virtually. This meeting breathed new life into this historic relationship, given the reality of Africa as the fastest growing continent in the world. In fact, Africa’s economy sees immense potential. The Africa Continental Free Trade Area notes that by 2035, there is expected to be a US$ 450 million boost to the economy, lifting 30 million people out of poverty.

Recently, the African Union declared the Caribbean as the sixth region of Africa, marking a full-circle moment, hinging on a proud and celebrated history, but one that holds immense economic and transformative potential for the regions.

The Afreximbank has cemented their role in this partnership, moving beyond rhetoric and sentimentality. In Bahamas, delegates were reminded of the role of the Bank in securing much needed vaccines for Africa and the Caribbean when, during the COVID-19 pandemic, individual Caribbean and African vaccine orders were insignificant to garner the attention of vaccine manufacturers. The Afreximbank under the leadership of Professor Benedict Oramah, guaranteed up to US$ 2 billion through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform for millions of doses to contain the pandemic across the regions.

More recently, the Board of Directors of Afreximbank approved US$1.5 billion funding to enable member states of CARICOM that have ratified the Partnership Agreement with Afreximbank, to tap into the Bank’s various financial instruments to support economic sectors including tourism, healthcare, renewable energy, shipping, mining, agriculture and agribusiness, air links, and aquaculture. Afreximbank will also work to support local financial institutions to source finance for SMEs. To date, 11 CARICOM members have signed on to this Agreement, and since the opening of the Bank’s CARICOM office in late 2023, financing has been provided under this arrangement to Saint Lucia and Barbados for instance, supporting school rehabilitation and sports infrastructure respectively.

The AAM delivered on its theme; there was a recurring sentiment of self-determination, a reunion, a shared vision of economic prosperity. At the same time, this polycrisis world is marred by deglobalization and rising protectionist policies, the antithesis to the notion of interconnectedness at the start of the 21st century. These global challenges have caused the compulsion to look within and across, rather than outside, for the solutions to building resilient societies. A prominent voice exalted, “Africa and the Caribbean must not outsource its development.”

Trade between Africa and the Caribbean portends significant potential. Africa’s exports to the Caribbean or the region’s exports to Africa stand at less than 1% according to the ITC, and are concentrated in a few products, including petroleum. While this volume of trade is low, it represents a significant opportunity for an expansion of trade and investment between the partners. Africa is home to 60% of the world’s arable lands and together with Suriname and Guyana, with enhanced logistics, supply chain connectivity and infrastructure investments, the region can feed itself.

In the area of services including film, music, fashion, art, literature, gastronomy and sports, the Bank is leading innovative programs to leverage the Creative Africa Nexus (CANEX) platform to support the expansion of the creative and cultural economy within Africa and the diaspora. Several initiatives and partnerships were unveiled, including with some of the global personalities mentioned earlier.

The meeting in the Bahamas witnessed hundreds of millions in deal signings, Agreements of Intent as well as Memoranda of Understanding, including with the Caribbean Export Development Agency. The MOU between the two agencies seeks to boost Africa-Caribbean trade and investment through collaborative initiatives focusing on capacity building, knowledge sharing, and trade facilitation for the private sector, including MSMEs. It also seeks to foster reciprocal investment and unlock new business opportunities across both regions. This builds on work already started since Caribbean Export’s inaugural trade and investment mission to Accra Ghana and Lagos Nigeria in June 2023, leading a delegation of over 30 Caribbean public and private sector participants. This framework will provide the basis to advance meaningful exchanges to enhance business ties across the regions. Caribbean Export’s flagship Caribbean Investment Forum, now in its third year can support this mandate to increase the pipeline of projects from Africa and the Caribbean.

The sobering thoughts of the global economy, the climate crisis and shifting geo-politics were put to rest, albeit temporarily, as the week culminated in a world class celebration of everything Afro-Caribbean – a manifestation of unity through the arts. It reminded us that only an ocean separates us. The Afreximbank must be commended for providing the platform for identifying south-south solutions for our economic emancipation.

Connect Caribé Leverages the CIF Platform for Successful Funding

Since its establishment in 2021, Pleion Group Inc., a leading economic development company in the Caribbean, whose purpose is to trigger economic growth through business development initiatives in the Caribbean and beyond, has been playing a critical role in the establishment and implementation of Connect Caribé, the private-sector led caribbean ferry project.

The company’s genesis is as a direct result of the company’s participation in the roundtable on transportation and logistics at the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2022 in Trinidad and Tobago, where key members of the consortium who were participants of the CIF2022 came together to establish what is now Connect Caribé. Connect Caribé focuses on four key pillars to address challenges affecting interregional transportation and trade among Caribbean nations in the areas of travel, cargo, agriculture, and e-commerce.

The diverse perspectives and industry insights shared during CIF2022 sparked innovative ideas and solutions that were later intentionally incorporated into its strategic plan for the Caribbean. During the second installment of CIF2023 in the Bahamas, Pleion Group Inc. led by Dr. Andre Thomas presented the Connect Caribé project in the investment village providing a broader scope of the project’s business model to investors. The CIF platform and the exposure the event provided has contributed to the successful acquisition of funding for the fleet of ships and various business operations. With this major development, Connect Caribe is targeting the commencement of service in the fourth quarter of 2024 for cargo operations and the first quarter of 2025 for travel operations.

At this year’s Caribbean Investment Forum 2024 in Georgetown, Guyana, Connect Caribé will present on the major developments of the Connect Caribé project during the afternoon session on July 12th, 2024 in the Country Presentation segment with special focus on Connect Caribe E-shops, an e-commerce marketplace targeted for the Caribbean region. The goal is to facilitate economic transformation within the Caribbean region by creating a marketplace which will allow entrepreneurs to use e-commerce in their businesses to generate local, regional and extra-regional sales.

On the heels of Caribbean Investment Forum 2024, Pleion Group will be presenting Connect Caribé Summit (‘Navigating New Horizons: Bridging Travel, Trade, and E-Commerce Across the Caribbean’) in Bridgetown Barbados July 23rd and 24th at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

The Connect Caribé Summit’s (CCS) aim is to propel the maritime travel and logistics sector toward a future of seamless connectivity and enhanced trade opportunities within the Caribbean. The CCS will serve as the platform for industry leaders, stakeholders, and innovators to convene and learn of the opportunities within each division of Connect Caribe operations.

This post was submitted by Connect Caribé. For more information on Connect Caribé visit their website at or contact Jennifer Highland at

Adapting to Changing Investment Trends: Gain Insights at CIF 2024

The Caribbean economy is rapidly evolving, fueled by the need to, among other things, implement innovative responses to climate change, increase competitiveness through digitalization, and reduce the reliance on the often volatile Tourism Industry through strategic diversification of national economies. As governments, Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) and regional bodies lead the charge to transform the Caribbean economy, global investment trends are further positioning the region as a lucrative location for global investors seeking to diversify their portfolios, make developmental impacts and enhance their ROIs.

The data is already showing the movement towards increased investment in the region.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2023, foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean rose by 51% in 2022, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the Caribbean, specifically, increasing by 53%. The same report indicated that over the past five years, regional economic bodies have attracted FDI flows in line with the overall trend seen in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2022, member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) saw investment doubling to 6.9 billion.

Of course, there is room for even more investment opportunities and FDI to flow into the region if the region capitalises on investment trends.

Renewable Energy Investments

The region’s abundant sunshine and strong winds make it a prime location for investments in renewable energy projects. Already, Caribbean governments are enshrining sustainability goals and climate resilience into their national development policies. Private interests are also developing Solar PV initiatives and Wind Farm projects. While this shift is underway in the region, global investors are capitalising on lowering costs in the renewable energy sector. The reduced costs have led to an impressive growth in clean energy investments in recent years. According to Bloomberg NEF Energy Transition Investment Trends 2024 global clean energy investment jumped 17% to $1.8 Trillion in 2023. The trend of clean energy investments is likely to continue in the foreseeable future, and regional governments, companies and start-ups can position themselves for partnerships with global investors to achieve renewable energy goals.

Agribusiness Venture Capital

In a world being radically transformed by the effects of climate change and buffeted by military conflicts and geopolitical tensions around the world, the global food supply chain seems constantly under threat. In vulnerable regions like the Caribbean, where 23 CAIPA Secretariat countries import 94% of their food, and the agricultural sectors seem routinely under-developed, it is vital for governments to increase investment into the sector. While vertical farming has been a recent buzz term in agricultural spaces, the integration of artificial intelligence into agribusiness is also very popular among venture capitalists.

Of course, there are other investment trends to which regional leaders must pay attention. For more insight on such trends there is no better resource than the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2024. The third iteration of the seminal event developed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) will be held in Guyana from July 10 – 12, 2024. It will bring together global investors, innovators, industry leaders and policymakers to discuss opportunities across four key tracks – Sustainable Agriculture, Green Economy Transition, Digitalisation of Business, and Sustainable Development.

Among the presentations expected to showcase the ways regional governments, companies and start-ups can adapt to changing investment trends are:

  • The presentation on ‘How the CARIFORUM-EU EPA Facilitates Investment‘ to be given by Carlene Hamilton, Trade Policy Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM
  • The Ministerial Roundtable: ‘Fostering Sustainable Development through Innovative Investment Strategies In the Caribbean: Opportunities and Challenges‘ which will feature ministers from Grenada and Guyana, and
  • A Panel Discussion on ‘Revolutionising Investment Finance in the Caribbean For a Thriving Future’ which will feature representatives from the European Investment Bank, Republic Financial Holdings, CrossBoundary Group and Impact Investing Institute.

By adapting to changing investment trends and positioning itself as a viable investment locale, the Caribbean will increase and enhance the investments and partnerships it secures. Be part of CIF 2024 to discover more about what trends could have the biggest impact on different sectors and how public and private sector decision-makers are seeking to respond.

Register now for CIF 2024 at!

The 4th Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference: A Deep Dive into the 2024 SIDS Global Business Network Forum

From the crystal-clear waters of St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda, the 4th Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference (SIDS4) set the stage for transformative dialogue and action, particularly through the 2024 SIDS Global Business Network Forum. This premier event, organized by the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), served as a bridge connecting international private sector entities with SIDS to foster partnerships for the upcoming decade.

Forum Overview:

Held on May 25-26, 2024, just before the SIDS4, the SIDS Global Business Network Forum explored critical themes including community empowerment, blue-green growth, and creating an enabling business environment conducive to investment. The Forum’s outcomes were pivotal in shaping discussions during the dedicated private sector roundtable at SIDS4.

Background and Evolution:

The SIDS Global Business Network (SIDS-GBN), established in 2014 during the Third UN Conference on SIDS in Samoa, has continuously evolved. It initially focused on public-private partnerships in Aruba (2016), sustainable tourism in Mauritius (2018), and ocean partnerships in Palau (2022). This fourth Forum, convened under the SAMOA Pathway, provided an opportunity to review the Network’s first decade and integrate private sector perspectives into the new Programme of Action for SIDS.

Sessions Recap:

Session 1 – Sustainability: Unlocking Opportunities for Blue and Green Economies:

This session highlighted the necessity of accelerating sustainable development partnerships within SIDS. Emphasis was placed on the blue economy, stressing creativity and community engagement as vital components.

Session 2 – Inclusivity: Empowering Local Communities for Transformed Economies:

Panelists discussed rebranding beyond the “sun, sea, sand” narrative, advocating for economic diversification through creative industries, sports tourism, and digital economy integration. The focus was on empowering local communities to actively shape their futures and foster innovation.

Session 3 – Policy: Crafting an Enabling Business Environment:

The need for effective collaboration between governments and the private sector was underscored. Historical barriers to collaboration were acknowledged, with an optimistic outlook on emerging responsiveness and cooperative dynamics.

Session 4 – Funding: Securing Financing and Investment:

This session, which I had the honor of moderating, emphasized the creation of supportive ecosystems through collaboration, innovative financial solutions, and sustainable practices. Calls for actionable roadmaps and increased investment underscored the discussions.

At the closing of the SIDS-GBN António Guterres, UN Secretary-General urged businesses to align their practices with the SDGs, emphasizing climate action and innovative financing. “Together, let’s work to deliver a better, more resilient, more sustainable future for the people of small island, developing states. And together Let’s raise our voice for the reforms that are needed for a more fair and more effective international financial and economic system able to provide to the SIDS, the resources and the capacities they deserve, and they need”.

He also highlighted the Global Business Network’s role in supporting SIDS, promoting investment in blue and green sectors, and fostering economic diversification, particularly for women and youth.

SIDS4 Private Sector Roundtable

On the evening of May 28 at the SIDS4 conference, delegates gathered to hear the outcomes and recommendations for the SIDS-GBN. High-level remarks delivered at the opening included, among others:

Chet Greene, Minister for Trade, Commerce, Industry, Sports, Culture and National Festivals, Antigua and Barbuda:

Greene emphasized the private sector’s critical role in job creation, innovation, and supporting MSMEs. He stressed the importance of transitioning to a green economy and the private sector’s leadership in this endeavor.

Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Barbados:

Symmonds addressed the need for pragmatic financing solutions, including debt relief and innovative insurance mechanisms to support SIDS in the face of natural disasters. He also highlighted the critical role of technical capacity building in renewable energy and other sectors essential for SIDS’ resilience and growth.

Key Recommendations:

The key recommendations coming out of the SIDS-GBN were presented by Rabab Fatima, High Representative for OHRLLS at the SIDS4 Private Sector Roundtable.

Fatima reflected on the Network’s achievements over the past decade, highlighting the importance of leveraging private sector innovation for blue-green economics, empowering local communities, and creating an enabling business environment. She emphasized the need for enhanced financing mechanisms to support MSMEs and sustainable development initiatives. The recommendations included:

  1. Multi-Stakeholder Forum:
    Establish a forum to design blue-green development roadmaps, connect initiatives to funding, and engage local communities in discussions between innovators and investors. This forum would facilitate knowledge-sharing and project matchmaking.
  2. SIDS Development Fund:
    Create a fund for Public-Private-Community Partnerships aimed at MSME growth, community benefits (including women and youth), and ecosystem regeneration, focusing on enabling environments, capacity building, and finance blending.
  3. Enabling Business Environment:
    Develop frameworks to enhance access to knowledge, support local chambers of commerce, and organize regional events to connect governments and the private sector.
  4. New Investment Framework:
    Implement innovative solutions (like blockchain and AI) and regional approaches to increase capital efficiency and decrease transaction risks, fostering an environment conducive to investment in SIDS.


The 2024 SIDS Global Business Network Forum was a beacon of hope and a catalyst for action, bringing together diverse stakeholders to forge partnerships and develop actionable strategies for sustainable development in SIDS. As we look towards the future, the private sector’s role in driving innovation, investment, and inclusive growth will be more critical than ever. The outcomes and recommendations from this Forum will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of SIDS’ development in the coming decade, ensuring that these vibrant communities can thrive sustainably amidst global challenges.

How to Build Resilient Supply Chain Modalities: A Business Perspective

Logistics and transportation are fundamental to the Caribbean’s economic integration into global trade. They are essential for expanding market reach and reducing operational costs. The recent UNCTAD Global Supply Chain Forum in Barbados provided an opportunity to examine the challenges and opportunities within these sectors, which included a panel discussion, hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, focusing on building resilient supply chains. Let’s delve into the key insights and takeaways from this event.

The Achilles Heel of Caribbean Logistics and the Transportation Sector

The Caribbean faces unique challenges in logistics and transportation, shaped by its geographic and economic conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic starkly exposed these vulnerabilities, highlighting the region’s heavy reliance on international trade and tourism. Moreover, the current global political landscape, with its geopolitical tensions and trade disputes, adds another layer of complexity to economic stability in the Caribbean.

Darwin Telemaque, CEO of the Antigua Port Authority, emphasized the urgent need to modernize port infrastructure. Inefficiencies such as outdated infrastructure, inadequate equipment, and bureaucratic hurdles significantly hamper the region’s logistics capabilities. Telemaque highlighted Barbados Port Inc.’s recent success in reducing costs by 17% through structural changes as a model for other ports. Modernizing these facilities is crucial for improving containerization and overall supply chain efficiency.

The Role of Technological Innovations and Strategic Investments

Strategic investments and technological innovations are essential for transforming the logistics and transportation sectors in the Caribbean. Embracing advanced shipping technologies and streamlining customs processes can significantly enhance infrastructural efficiency and sustainability. Telemaque’s call for modernizing port infrastructure underscores the importance of such investments. Implementing automated systems and upgrading port equipment can reduce operational costs and boost productivity, positioning the Caribbean to compete more effectively within the global market.

Michelle Belgrave, Customs and Trade Compliance Director for DHL Express Caribbean, highlighted the importance of comprehensive policy frameworks and stakeholder participation in facilitating smoother export processes. She emphasized the necessity for SMEs to understand the Harmonized System (HS) code for customs and compliance, which DHL assists with, ensuring seamless shipping. Programs like DHL’s SheTrades, aimed at helping women entrepreneurs in Barbados, are crucial for fostering technological adoption and innovation among SMEs.

The Vital Role of SMEs in the Caribbean Economy
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Caribbean economy, making up 99.5% of businesses in the region. Yet, only 10% of these SMEs export their products, which shows there’s plenty of room for growth. Belgrave emphasized the critical role of SMEs and the need for enhanced support to improve their export capabilities. Streamlined export processes, facilitated by comprehensive policy frameworks and technological assistance, can help SMEs overcome barriers to international trade.

Tamara Gibson, Managing Director of Native Caribbean Limited, shared her experience of growing her business by 247% despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. She highlighted the high costs of exporting, especially for small products where shipping costs often exceed product costs. Involving micro businesses in policy discussions and creating opportunities for bulk shipping are essential strategies for reducing costs and enhancing the global competitiveness of Caribbean SMEs. Nicholas Bynoe, Owner of Old Duppy Foods Inc, echoed the same sentiments as he highlighted the challenges of high shipping costs and maintaining consistent raw material supply, emphasizing the importance of building legitimacy for Caribbean brands in international markets.

What is the takeaway?

Building resilient supply chains is crucial for the Caribbean’s future prosperity. Addressing the challenges in our logistics and transportation sectors through technological innovations and strategic investments can boost economic growth and job security. The insights from the UNCTAD Global Supply Chain Forum provide a clear roadmap for developing a robust logistics framework that supports sustainable economic activities. By modernizing infrastructure and supporting SMEs, the Caribbean can better integrate into the global economy and achieve long-term economic stability

Guyana’s Sustainable Energy Drive: Paving the Path to Energy Security

Guyana stands on the cusp of a transformative energy revolution, harnessing its natural resources to propel itself towards a sustainable future. As the global community shifts towards renewable energy, Guyana’s strategic focus on sustainable solutions not only ensures energy security but also paves the way for economic growth and environmental stewardship.

In the heart of this transformation lies the upcoming Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF), a pivotal gathering slated for July 10-12, 2024, in Georgetown. This event serves as a beacon for global investors and businesses seeking opportunities in Guyana’s thriving energy sector.

With estimated reserves surpassing 10 billion barrels of oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of gas, Guyana’s recent oil boom has created substantial revenue streams. However, rather than falling prey to the “oil curse,” the nation is steering towards inclusive and resilient energy strategies.

Central to Guyana’s vision is the commitment to ensure that the benefits of the energy sector are equitably distributed among its citizens. A cornerstone of this approach is the drive towards energy security, underpinned by strategic investments in sustainable energy projects.

Leading the charge is the Gas-to-Energy project, a transformative initiative aimed at harnessing natural gas from offshore reserves to fuel electricity generation. By establishing an integrated processing facility, Guyana seeks to reduce reliance on imported energy, stabilize the national grid, and lower electricity costs for consumers.

Complementing this effort is the Hinterland Electrification Programme, targeting energy security in remote communities. Through infrastructure upgrades and grid expansions, Guyana aims to extend reliable power access to every corner of the nation, employing cost-effective and sustainable technologies.

Furthermore, Guyana is diversifying its energy mix with investments in hydro, solar, wind, and biomass technologies. These projects not only mitigate environmental impact but also ensure consistent and affordable energy supply, enhancing economic competitiveness and fostering growth.

In parallel, Guyana is modernizing its legal and regulatory frameworks to promote transparency, accountability, and ethical practices in the energy sector. Mandatory environmental assessments underscore the nation’s commitment to sustainability and preservation.

Legislation such as the Local Content Act further reinforces Guyana’s dedication to fostering local participation and safeguarding citizens’ interests in the energy industry.

Foreign investors and global enterprises are invited to participate in Guyana’s sustainable energy drive, offering expertise and resources to accelerate the transition towards a resilient and inclusive energy landscape.

The Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) in Georgetown presents an unparalleled opportunity to explore Guyana’s sustainable energy initiatives. Attendees can engage in B2B sessions, gain insights into vetted projects, and discover investment opportunities in Guyana’s thriving energy sector.

As Guyana embarks on this transformative journey towards energy security through sustainable means, it invites the world to join hands in building a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce: Bringing the Flavors of Barbados to the Regional Market Through E-Commerce

Barbados in a bottle’ is the phrase entrepreneur Wayne Ifill uses to describes his brand ‘Auntie Phyllis Bajan BBQ Sauce’.

Bursting with flavours that are synonymous with the island, Wayne’s five sauces are available at several local outlets, and soon they will also be selling online as he prepares to launch an ecommerce platform following his participation in Caribbean Export’s Virtual E-Commerce Accelerator Programme (VEAP).

Wayne says he took part in VEAP because “the digital world is where we’re going” and he wants to be able to make the most of global interest in Caribbean food and flavours.

The VEAP Technical Cooperation Initiative was a ‘learning by doing’ intervention implemented by Caribbean Export in conjunction with Expertise France through the European Union’s (DIRECCT) Programme.

Businesses enrolled in the sessions to learn from master trainers who equipped them with a range of practical skills, including how to develop an e-commerce business strategy; e-commerce value and pricing; e-commerce payment systems; and understanding data analysis and reporting.

Wayne says he felt the programme would help him find ways to supplement the physical spaces where his sauces can be bought and create a sales platform that is accessible around the world 24/7.

“To be able to do things online, is an added plus, a bonus,” Wayne says. “It was a no brainer to take part once the opportunity came up because we know, especially from COVID, that physical spaces have their limits and being online you can overcome most of those. It gives people a chance to see you; resonate, relate, and communicate and then hopefully buy from you.”

Wayne’s branded website currently shares the story of his company and offers more information on how his sauces can be used, but it does not currently have an e-commerce function. He is hoping to launch that capability within the next few months.

He is also working on developing an export strategy with Export Barbados (formerly the Barbados Investment & Development Corporation) after interest in his product from the UK and believes a fully operational e-commerce platform is now a necessity to expand beyond the region.

Wayne reveals that setting up an e-commerce website has taken a lot of “back-end work” as well as investment in technology to ensure it is safe and secure, which he learned through VEAP is of vital importance.

He adds: “VEAP didn’t just widened my knowledge about the benefits of being online, it also looked at some of the challenges due to things like cybercrime and customers needing to be assured that their credit card information will be secure. So, VEAP showed me how technology can be used to overcome those fears.”

Along with enhancing the Auntie Phyllis website, Wayne will be busy over the next few months working on the final recipe for a fish sauce that he hopes will have wide appeal because it is not mayonnaise based and is therefore suitable for vegetarians and vegans. He also has a dry rub product and is planning to launch travel packs targeted at the tourism market.

Wayne’s product line has come a long way from its start in 2009. Initially, he started making BBQ sauce for his small fast-food canteen because he was dissatisfied with the ones he found in the shops and kept having to tweak them to improve their flavour.

After encouragement from his staff and customers, Wayne decided to focus on infusing local ingredients like rum, hot pepper, and pineapple and soon had recipes for four sauces along with the original. In 2019, he officially launched Auntie Phyllis (named after his mother) and now his condiments are on shelves alongside the sauces he used to buy.

When asked to describe his product, Wayne summarises it as “a premium quality, purchase and pour line of BBQ sauces that embrace Bajan culture’.

He explains: “It is premium because when it is poured out you can see the ingredients, flavour, and texture and that tells you that this is a good sauce.

He adds: “You also don’t have to add anything to it. Every sauce has the exact flavour you desire. The original is the one that you can put your own twist to because I can’t make every single flavour, so the original is a good base, and you can add what you like to that one.

“I can guarantee that no other sauce tastes as good as Auntie Phyllis!”