Development Partners Collaborating to Promote Investment Opportunities to Foster Economic Transformation in the Caribbean

  • Priority areas identified for partnerships
  • Collaborations with businesses will accelerate environmental solutions and innovation

July 11, 2024, Georgetown, GuyanaThe third iteration of the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s (Caribbean Export) Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) has received the support of several significant development partners, who aim to help the forum become a promoter for economic transformation in the Caribbean region. 

This was highlighted during a press conference held on the second day of the CIF, where the partners, the European Union, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the CAF Development Bank, all underscored the importance of strategic partnerships to foster sustainable growth in the region.

Leo Naut, Deputy Executive Director of Caribbean Export, told the conference that by bringing together international development partners, the region can leverage their expertise, resources and networks to drive impactful projects forward.

The EU’s Head of Cooperation at the Regional European Union Delegation for the Caribbean, David Mogollon, said that the Union can use its tools and instruments to catalyze investments in the Caribbean.

Against this backdrop, Mogollon added that the European Union established the Global Gateway Strategy, which tries to leverage public funding to bridge the gap of investment and mobilise private sector capital.

As part of this strategy, he stated that the EU is trying to leverage $45 Billion Euros for the entire Latin American and Caribbean region. Giving a breakdown of how this works, he said that they have jointly identified several priorities with partners, ranging from maritime connectivity to renewable energy and digital transformation to building capacity.

Meanwhile, USAID Regional Representative for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Mervyn Farroe said that their goal is to support the creation of a safe, prosperous and resilient Caribbean region.

Mr. Farroe added that USAID’s strength lies in the partnerships with local government, international partners, regional organizations and the private sector.

“The Caribbean Investment Forum is taking place at an opportune time to foster more partnership because the record growth of private capital in the Caribbean and emerging economies around the world has created an unprecedented opportunity for governments and development partners to leverage their resources to enable investors to become the current driver of inclusive economic growth,” he said.

With this, he signalled that there is no better event than the CIF to make connections. As a result, the agency aims to partner with businesses to accelerate global environmental solutions and unlock innovative technology and research.

Furthermore, Lorena Solorzano-Salazar, Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), said that in exploring partnerships in the Caribbean the bank has been focused on implementing its institutional strategy and its ‘One Caribbean’ strategy.

The ‘One Caribbean” strategy aims to promote integration and resilience in the region with the support of projects and partnerships.

At this year’s forum, she underscored the importance of partners like the IDB being present, exploring opportunities, and providing resources to the private sector across the region.

Meanwhile, CAF Development Bank Representative Bernardo Requena stated that staging the CIF showcases the Caribbean’s potential as a prime investment destination. “Our collaboration with the Caribbean Export Development Agency has been excellent, and we are committed to continuing this partnership with you,” Requena said.

International Financiers Make Bold Investments to Support Economic Growth in the Caribbean Region

  • USAID reaffirms its commitment to the Caribbean with $28 million in funding, including an extra $1.45 million to expand its Economic Development Accelerator program in Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Exciting investment opportunities across the Caribbean were unveiled at the CIF 2024 Investment Village.
  • Pitch for investment initiative creates a bridge to fill the gap between Caribbean businesses and international investors.

July 11, 2024, Georgetown, Guyana — The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reaffirmed its dedication to the Caribbean on Thursday, announcing a substantial funding allocation of nearly US $28 million. This financial support, including US $1.45 million in new funding from USAID, will be crucial in advancing inclusive economic growth and climate adaptation in the Caribbean region.

During her keynote address at day-two of the 2024 Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) titled ‘Building Resilience Through De-risking: Unleashing Catalytic Capital and Public-Private Collaborations in the Caribbean,’ Isobel Coleman, Deputy Administrator for Policy and Programming at USAID, emphasized the organization’s commitment to innovation and maximizing development impact through the strategic investment of private resources. She highlighted the positive effects of these efforts not only in the Caribbean but also around the world.

The announcement marks a significant milestone in USAID’s ongoing efforts to support and foster sustainable development in the Caribbean, further solidifying the organization’s pivotal role in driving positive change in the region.

She mentioned that while governments may not always have the resources for large-scale climate investments, they can allocate public funds to reduce investment risk, creating a more favourable environment for investors. Collaboration between the public and private sectors can yield excellent results, but it requires commitment and a willingness to take on more risk from all parties involved.

Lorena Solórzano-Salazar, the representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at the Country Office in Guyana, addressed the numerous challenges the Caribbean faces across different sectors and emphasized the necessity for increased direct investment.

While underscoring the Bank’s supportive stance in the region, Ms. Solórzano-Salazar recognized that “the gaps in the region are significant.” She stressed that “one institution cannot address these issues alone” and pointed out the potential for bilateral and multilateral partners to collaborate in addressing the development gaps.

During the forum, the IDB representative shared information about the bank’s regional flagship program, “One Caribbean,” launched last year to promote sustainable development in the Caribbean. The program addresses climate adaptation, disaster risk management, private-sector engagement, and food security issues. These efforts aim to support regional integration and resilience through project and partnership support.

The representative also stressed the importance of this program in supporting long-term investment in the face of climate change and contributing to the development of Latin America and the Caribbean. She also mentioned that the IDB will continue to support the region.

Additionally, Dr Gerrard Bushell, Chairman of CAG, The Carlyle Group, joined the discussion as the keynote speaker for the Fireside Chat: Building Tomorrow: Harnessing The Power Of Green.

Dr. Bushell explained the methods he implied were the driving force behind his successful career in finance and investment.

He underscored the intersection between capital markets and green initiatives. “We have capacity and capital and need to build the bridge.”

During the CEO leadership roundtable panel discussion on ‘Fueling Resilience Through Bold Investments’, Ryshelle McCadney, Vice President of Citi Environmental & Social Risk Management; Andrew Mendes, Managing Director of Farfan & Mendes Ltd; Okechukwu Ihejirika, Acting Chief Operating Officer of the Caribbean Office of African Export-Import Bank; and Dave Sahadath, Director of Global Business Development at Global Integrated FinTech Solutions, discussed the challenges faced by prospective businesses in the Caribbean region while sharing their experiences.

The panel acknowledged that upfront investment was a significant hurdle and alluded to the impacts of climate change, referencing the devastation caused by Hurricane Beryl and the efficiency of public-private partnerships. Local labour, building capacity and digital infrastructure to be climate resilient were examined.

The forum also included a panel discussion on the theme “Fields of Fortune: Investing in Sustainable Agriculture for a Flourishing Caribbean” concerning the agriculture sector.

The panellists featured were Jody White, Executive of Sustainable Agriculture, Food & Innovation, Entrepreneur, Consultant; Patrick Starr, Director of Investments at US International Development Finance Corporation; Carlos Eduardo Narvaez, Head of Agribusiness at IDB Invest; and Dr Haimwant Persaud, Chief Executive Officer at Latitude Geospatial.

During a side event, Dr. Damie Sinanan, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, and Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-INVEST), cut the ribbon to declare the investment village open. Dr. Sinanan noted that the village serves as a platform for showcasing various products and services and is ideal for connecting investors and businesses.

Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop believes that the region’s objective should be to ensure that “better products reach the right markets,” even if it means slightly adjusting the products or services offered in this part of the world. He also stated that “real opportunities exist, so investment-driven growth is achievable.”

To conclude the day’s activities, businesses from Guyana, Suriname, St Lucia, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines participated in the investment project presentation and connected with four potential investors. This is a conversation that will continue beyond the 2024 Caribbean Investment Forum.

Caribbean Investment Forum continues to create opportunities for more investment in the Region.

  • The third edition of the Caribbean Investment Forum kicks off as the Caribbean Export Development Agency fosters stronger public-private partnerships in the Caribbean.
  • Guyana, a key player, hosts the 2024 Caribbean Investment Forum, inviting delegates to explore the region’s investment opportunities and incentives.
  • The CIF 2024 agenda is strategically designed to connect regional and international investors to opportunities across the Caribbean, fostering the growth of regional partnerships.

July 10, 2024, Georgetown, Guyana– At the opening ceremony of the 2024 Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in Georgetown, Guyana, renewed calls were made for greater public-private partnerships to transform the Caribbean region, setting the tone for the next two days of discussions.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) is hosting CIF 2024 under the theme ‘Transforming Our Future, Empowering Growth’, collaborating with the Government of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, the European Union, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Development Bank.

Dr Damie Sinanan, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, emphasized the importance of the forum, symbolizing a remarkable shift in the collective approach to securing the vital investments required for the region’s economic development and diversification.

“The Caribbean is ripe for investment opportunities in various sectors and the forum provides the platform to enable various public and private stakeholders to meet and advance this cause,” Dr Sinanan said.

Dr. Sinanan stressed the importance of sustained economic growth in the Caribbean region and the need for regional and international partnerships beyond national borders.

“We must come together as a single Caribbean to bring the required skills and market size needed to attract the high level of capital investment needed to achieve transformational growth. In other words, it can’t be business as usual. [We] must act with alacrity and unity while embracing the ever-changing environment.”

Meanwhile, His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, also shared similar sentiments of a greater need for more regional partnerships. The head of state reminded delegates, “Guyana is open to investment and has a very friendly investment environment.”

He also highlighted the many opportunities in his country, stating, “Guyana offers generous and favourable fiscal investment incentives. Guyana is an open foreign currency market with low inflation and a stable financial system. In every single sector, we have outlined the investment opportunities that exist here in Guyana.”

In addition, Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary-General of the CARICOM Secretariat, used her remarks to underscore the urgent need for action regarding the region’s vulnerabilities to climate change, evidenced by Hurricane Beryl.

Dr. Barnett is calling for increased private-sector investment in sustainable agriculture. She described this investment as crucial for enhancing advantages and addressing challenges. The CARICOM Secretary-General also emphasizes the importance of channeling investments into sustainable agricultural projects that modernize farming, introduce technological innovations, and improve market access for existing and new agricultural products.

“[CARICOM] is prioritizing investments that are climate resilient, those investments which integrate improved farming techniques to address the region’s vulnerability to hurricanes, floods, droughts and rising sea levels that cause salination and loss of arable lands.”

His Excellency Rene Van Nes, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Guyana, praised EU investors for their involvement in this year’s forum. He mentioned that the EU has a longstanding partnership with the region, based on mutual interests and strong economic, social, cultural, and historical ties.

“The Caribbean [is] a significant investment opportunity, and we aspire to be the business partner of choice for the Caribbean, and for that, we are putting at your disposal the comprehensive global gateway strategy and its associated investment agenda. The global gateway investment agenda is the EU’s offer to bridge the investment gap and leverage private capital to boost innovative, sustainable, and transformative investments.”

Ms. Lisa Harding, Acting Head of the Private Sector Division at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), reiterated the bank’s commitment to supporting such a forum. The Caribbean Investment Forum serves as a strategic platform not only to showcase investment opportunities, but also to facilitate networking and partnerships, and foster much-needed dialogue among stakeholders.

“The Caribbean Investment Forum has successfully attracted investment capital into the region. The Caribbean is open to investment. CDB plays a critical role in supporting investment and sustainable development across its client countries. We take a holistic view of development, ensuring that it is resilient, inclusive and equitable.”

After the formal opening, the delegates were treated to a vibrant cultural presentation titled “One Guyana,” which showcased a fusion of dances performed by Guyanese dance groups Riverside Angels, Jorro, and Berbice Delights Dance Troupes. Additionally, during the cocktail reception, a cultural presentation titled “A Taste of Guyana” was demonstrated, featuring traditional Guyanese food, drinks, and arts.

Over the next two days, over 450 participants at CIF 2024 will discuss sustainable agriculture, the transition to a green economy, the digitalization of businesses, and sustainable development.

CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean Renews Partnership with Caribbean Investment Forum 2024

Bridgetown, Barbados – Caribbean Export is delighted to announce the renewal of the partnership with CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean for the upcoming Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2024. Scheduled to take place from July 10th to 12th, 2024, in Georgetown, Guyana, CIF 2024 promises to be a pivotal event in the region’s economic landscape and is hosted in collaboration with the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, the European Union, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest).

CAF and Caribbean Export further solidified their collaboration by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in February 2023, underscoring their shared commitment to advancing the region’s development agenda. Recognizing the forum’s crucial role in driving investment and fostering sustainable development across the Caribbean CAF have continued to support the event for the 3rd consecutive occasion.  

Leo Naut, Deputy Executive Director of Caribbean Export, emphasized the significance of this support, stating, “CIF represents a collaborative effort among key stakeholders to promote economic resilience and prosperity in the Caribbean. We are grateful for the continued support of partners like CAF, whose commitment to sustainable development aligns seamlessly with our mission. Together, we are working towards creating a more vibrant and resilient Caribbean economy.”

In expressing the bank’s commitment to the event, Bernardo Requena, Trinidad and Tobago Representative for CAF remarked, “CAF is proud to collaborate once again with Caribbean Export for the Caribbean Investment Forum 2024. This event provides a vital platform for showcasing investment opportunities and facilitating partnerships that drive sustainable development in the region. Through our collaboration, we aim to foster innovation, resilience, and inclusive growth, ultimately creating a brighter future for the Caribbean.”

CIF 2024 promises to be a dynamic gathering of thought leaders, investors, government officials, and industry experts, united in their pursuit of a prosperous and sustainable Caribbean. The partnership between Caribbean Export and CAF underscores the importance of collaboration in advancing the region’s development agenda and unlocking its full potential. Caribbean Export is grateful for the continued support of private sector partners such as Republic Bank and other development partners including the USAID, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC/World Bank), whose commitment to sustainable development aligns seamlessly with our mission.

Caribbean Export Appoints Dr. Damie Sinanan as New Executive Director

  • Dr. Damie Sinanan appointed as new Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency.
  • Dr. Sinanan brings over 20 years of experience in export development and promotion across the Caribbean region.
  • His leadership will focus on transforming Caribbean Export into the leading project executing agency for private sector development in the region.

Bridgetown, Barbados – July 1, 2024 – The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Damie Sinanan as its new Executive Director, effective immediately. Dr. Sinanan brings a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the region’s economic landscape to his new role.

Dr. Sinanan, a national of Trinidad and Tobago, has served for the past ten years at Caribbean Export, where he has excelled as the Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion. His leadership has been instrumental in driving private sector development, enhancing trade and export promotion, investment attraction and advancing economic resilience across the Caribbean.

With over 20 years of experience in export development and promotion, Dr. Sinanan’s career includes significant roles at exporTT, the official trade promotion agency of Trinidad and Tobago, Republic Bank Limited and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Dr. Sinanan holds a B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of the West Indies.

Expressing his enthusiasm for his new role, Dr. Sinanan stated, “I am honoured to lead Caribbean Export and will continue working towards our mission of building stronger businesses in the region. I look forward to continued collaboration with our existing partners while building new partnerships to drive innovation, sustainability, and economic resilience in our region. My vision is to transform Caribbean Export into the leading project executing agency for private sector development in the Caribbean”

Under Dr. Sinanan’s leadership, Caribbean Export aims to expand its impact by enhancing trade and attracting investment within the region, creating new jobs and improving the livelihoods of Caribbean people.

Afreximbank and Caribbean Export Sign Landmark MOU to Boost Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment

  • African Export-Import Bank and Caribbean Export Development Agency sign MOU to boost trade and investment between Africa and the Caribbean
  • Collaborative initiatives to focus on capacity building, knowledge sharing, and trade facilitation for MSMEs and private sectors.
  • MOU aims to foster reciprocal investment and unlock new business opportunities across both regions.

Nassau, Bahamas – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) proudly announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance trade and investment flows between Africa and the Caribbean. This landmark agreement was signed on June 14, 2024, during the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF) and Afreximbank Annual Meeting at the Baha Mar Convention Centre in The Bahamas, marking a significant milestone in economic collaboration between the two regions.

Key Objectives and Areas of Collaboration

The MOU establishes a strategic partnership between Afreximbank and Caribbean Export to explore joint initiatives supporting their respective missions and goals. The primary areas of collaboration outlined in the MOU include:

Capacity Building and Technical Collaboration: Enhancing the capacity of African and Caribbean micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through capacity-building initiatives and the exchange of technical expertise and knowledge.

Knowledge Sharing and Information Exchange: Facilitating the exchange of information on investment opportunities, policies, regulations, procedures, statistics, and other business data, subject to availability and internal regulations.

Trade and Investment Facilitation: Promoting reciprocal investment and export services, providing facilitation services to ensure timely project implementation, and offering guidance to potential investors and exporters in both regions.

Dr. Lynette Holder, Chair of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, was present at the ceremony, reaffirming the agency’s dedication to fostering economic ties between the Caribbean and Africa.

Mr. Leo Naut, Deputy Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, added: “We are excited to collaborate with Afreximbank to bolster trade and investment flows between our regions. This partnership aligns perfectly with our mission to connect the vast business opportunities of Africa and the Caribbean, fostering trade and investment that drive substantial regional growth.”

CIF 2024 Promotes Sustainable Investment For Caribbean Growth

  • CIF Guyana 2024 to feature high level discussions on sustainable investment
  • President Irfaan Ali to share vision for transformed Caribbean
  • Opportunities for business leaders to secure ESG-compliant partnerships

With the region on the verge of an economic revolution, global investors will discover just how serious the Caribbean is about driving sustainable investment when the 2024 iteration of the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) kicks off in Guyana from July 10 – 12.

The third instalment of the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s (Caribbean Export) seminal event will see hundreds of local, regional and international investors descend on the Arthur Chung Conference Centre for three days of dialogue and deal-making across four key tracks – Sustainable Agriculture, Green Economy Transition, Digitalisation of Business, and Sustainable Development.

“At the heart of the Caribbean Investment Forum 2024 lies a profound recognition: embedding sustainability in investments isn’t merely an option; it’s an imperative. We are committed to fostering resilient economies, protecting our environment, and ensuring inclusive growth for generations to come. The Caribbean is brimming with potential. where sustainability isn’t merely a choice; it’s the path to a prosperous and equitable future.” Leo Naut – Deputy Executive Director, Caribbean Export

President of the world’s fastest growing economy, His Excellency, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali of the Republic of Guyana, will deliver the keynote address – Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: President Irfaan Ali’s Vision for a Transformed Caribbean. It will set the tone for a conference expected to bring decision-makers, global investors and industry leaders face to face with regional innovators, manufacturers, service providers and exhibitors all keen to secure ESG-compliant partnerships.

Among the other keenly anticipated investment focused sessions are a ministerial roundtable on Fostering Sustainable Development through Innovative Investment Strategies in the Caribbean and there will also be a panel discussion on ‘Revolutionising Investment Finance in the Caribbean For A Thriving Future’, featuring Nigel Baptiste, Group President and CEO of Republic Financial Holdings, the only regional indigenous bank and Platinum sponsor for CIF2024. Others on the panel include: Jamie McInerney, Managing Director for CrossBoundary Group and Kristina Eisele from the European Investment Bank.

Register now for CIF 2024 at https://caribbeaninvestmentforum.com

Corporate business leaders and tech innovators connect and collaborate at Caribbean Export’s digital accelerator workshops

  • Caribbean Export and partners host workshop as part of EU-LAC Digital Accelerator project.
  • Event targeted corporates to connect C-suite executives with digital start-ups and SMEs.
  • Business leaders were urged to partner with innovators to achieve digital transformation.

Corporate entities, tech start-ups, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) were brought together to collaborate on transforming the region’s digital business landscape at several recent workshops hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export).

The ‘Digital Innovation Nexus: Bridging Corporates, SMEs and Start-Ups for Next-Gen Solutions’ workshop  series is being run by Caribbean Export in partnership with Tecnalia Ventures and the European Business & Innovation Centre Network, with funding from the EU Global Gateway.

The interactive workshops aim to make it easier for entrepreneurs and C-suite executives to find digital innovators working on viable solutions for real-world problems. The first workshop was held in Trinidad and Tobago (March 26 &27) and a second one in the Dominican Republic (April 16).

The most recent workshop held in Barbados on April 23, consisted of a wide range of Caribbean corporate companies seeking to enhance and advance their technological capabilities, find potential start-ups and SME partners for growth, and learn from other firms currently operating as pioneers in the regional digital sphere.

During her opening remarks at the event, Chairperson of Caribbean Export’s Board of Directors, Dr Lynette Holder, called the digital transformation taking place in the global private sector a “gamechanger”.

She told the audience: “We are in a digital world, we have to adopt digital platforms, and we have to embrace these modalities in order to do better business…and therefore we have a responsibility as leaders in the business community to help our sector adopt, migrate, adapt, move into this space and if we don’t, the reality is, we’ll be left behind.”

Speaking on behalf of the Delegation of the European Union, Lidia Martinez underscored why it is imperative for large and small Caribbean companies to work together in order to make sustainable progress in the digital space.

Ms Martinez stated: “What is clear is that the digital landscape has become the cornerstone of our interconnected world. Shaping economies, societies, and the very essence of human interaction. In the area of technology advancement, forging alliances and fostering collaboration is not just prudent, but imperative.”

During a high-level panel discussion which kicked off the event, representatives from Export Barbados, Orbit Innovation, Global Integrated FinTech Solution, and Caribbean Export discussed what is needed to redefine corporate innovation in the region.

Founder and Director of Orbit Innovation, Byron Gibson, spoke about the need for local innovators to consider their ideas from every possible business angle before pitching them to interested stakeholders. He also urged regional digital start-ups and SMEs to focus on “growth by proposition” without being stymied by the fear of failure or rejection.

Chief Executive Officer at Global Integrated FinTech Solutions, Dave Sahadath, explained how his company has been leveraging partnerships to enter the African marketplace. He emphasised the importance of working with reputable partners that share a company’s ethos and also told attendees not to underestimate the power of social media platforms in terms of finding and reaching the right people.

A fourth edition of the workshop is scheduled to take place in Jamaica on 14 May 2024.

Regional private sector building resilience and readiness for the future, with grants and projects facilitated by Caribbean Export

  • Caribbean Export’s ‘Annual Results Report – 2023’ released to partners and stakeholders.
  • Over 300 regional firms received over $7.8m (US) in grants, Results Report – 2023 shows.
  • Agency achieved a project implementation rate of 93% and helped create over 1,300 new jobs.

Millions of dollars in grants dispersed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) have created jobs, increased exports, and furthered digitalization for over 1,000 regional micro-small-and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), as revealed in its ‘Annual Results Report – 2023’.

Caribbean Export released its third Annual Results Report at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa on Wednesday, 10 April 2024 to an audience consisting of local, regional, and international stakeholders, diplomats, beneficiaries, Caribbean Export employees, and the media.

The report outlined how the region’s premier trade and investment promotion agency has continued to focus on a transformational agenda to boost regional economies, with a particular push towards enhancing the adaptive capability and competitiveness of regional MSMEs so that they can stand out in the global marketplace.

Caribbean Export’s outgoing Executive Director, Deodat Maharaj, lauded the agency’s achievements in 2023 which included a 93% project implementation rate. He outlined how the agency’s ongoing commitment to “delivering results” has directly assisted over 1,000 Caribbean business professionals via grant funding alongside training, workshops, investment forums, and support to attend international tradeshows.

Mr Maharaj said: “Caribbean Export is not a flavour of the month organisation. We are staying true to our mission, values, and vision, and focusing on sectors that are driving transformation, innovation, digitalization, and technology.”

He added that the Agency and its financial partners which include the European Union, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank, remain committed to practically supporting the private sector especially MSMEs, which account for 55-60% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product and nearly 70% of its total employment.

Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kerrie Symmonds, praised Caribbean Export for its significant achievements in 2023. However, he suggested that more work needs to be done, especially by regional governments, to make it easier for businesses to export within and outside the Caribbean.

Mr Symmonds said: “What we have seen here is the beginning of building the capacity of our region’s business people to be able, not only to move across borders within this region, and the CARIFORUM marketplace, but to go into Europe as well and that is an ambition whose time has come but we have to redouble our efforts…

“In this regard, I believe that Caribbean Export is doing an excellent job in mobilising the private sector and working with us [government] to build a more productive and competitive private sector.”

During a panel discussion at the event, beneficiaries and regional organisations who have partnered with Caribbean Export spoke about the enduring impact of the Agency’s dynamic programmes. Jo Edghill, Managing Director at Megapower, explained how funds from Caribbean Export’s Direct Assistance Grant Scheme gave the business the opportunity to expand and eventually create Barbados’ first battery re-use laboratory.

Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the EU to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, OECS, and CARICOM / CARIFORUM, David Mogollan, reiterated the bloc’s unwavering support for Caribbean Export’s work. Between 2017 and 2023, the EU invested over €27.5m (EUROS) in grants through the 11th European Development Fund Regional Private Sector Development Programme which ended in September 2023.

Mr Mogollan confirmed the EU’s faith in Caribbean Export as a reliable implementation partner with continued funding offered via the EU’s Global Gateway project.

Chairperson of Caribbean Export’s Board of Directors, Dr Lynette Holder, underscored the diverse nature of the Agency’s intervention programmes in 2023, including the second iteration of the highly-successful Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) which was held in The Bahamas in October and attracted over 545 delegates from 46 countries. CIF 2024 will take place in Guyana from 10-12 July.

Dr Holder said: “CIF 2023 emerged as a global investment hub attracting over 40 investors, ranging from angel investors to debt financiers and showcasing a wide array of financing options. This underscores CIF’s pivotal role as a premier platform for investment and financial collaboration across diverse sectors.”

She stated that Caribbean Export’s board of directors remain “confident in the Agency’s continuous role as an indispensable partner for the private sector, providing innovative and strategic support tiered to the dynamic needs of our member countries.”

CIF Guyana 2024 Promises more Investment Opportunities for Global Investors and Regional Businesses

  • CIF Guyana 2024 launched April 3rd
  • Caribbean Export Head says Caribbean offers access to new markets
  • Guyana’s Commerce Minister calls for patient investment

Less Talk. More Business – that’s what global investors, along with regional business leaders, and innovators can expect from the Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2024 when it is held from July 10 – 12, 2024 in Georgetown, Guyana.

CIF, now in its third year, is an annual forum created by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) that draws global investors to the Caribbean, and presents them with exciting, bankable investment opportunities from across the region. During the launch event held at the Guyana Marriott Hotel on Wednesday, and streamed online, over 300 investors, business leaders and journalists heard how this year’s event has been designed to help secure major investments for regional projects in the critical areas of Technology & Innovation, Sustainable Agriculture, and the transition to a Green Economy.

When asked what makes the region a lucrative investment hub for global investors, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Deodat Maharaj, explained, “People think of the Caribbean as being small, individual island states. Actually, together with the Dominican Republic, we have a market size of 30 million people, that’s one. Secondly, in the year 2019 before COVID, and we’re seeing the numbers return, we had over 32 million stay over tourist arrivals – this is non-cruise ship visitors. So, when you look at our market size, you’re looking at a market of 60 million. We have free trade agreements with Canada, with the United States of America, with that lucrative half a billion market in Europe, with Colombia, with Costa Rica, with Cuba. Take the Caribbean as a beachhead to access these markets as well. People who are here in Guyana, and viewing us from overseas and thinking about coming to the Caribbean Investment Forum, think size, think scale, think using the Caribbean as a beachhead to access fantastic new markets.”

Head of Cooperation of the European Union’s Delegation to Guyana, Suriname and Caribbean OCTs, Joan Nadal Sastre, said the EU fully supports the forum and its mission. He noted that the EU’s 2022 Global Gateway Strategy was helping to bridge the Caribbean’s investment gap by using EU public financing to “leverage private capital and investment for projects that deliver on key public policy objectives”.

He added, “One thing is clear – the European Union wants to do more business with the Caribbean. We want more EU companies to see the Caribbean as an investment opportunity. We want to be a key business partner for you and we have a lot to put on the table.”

Meanwhile, Guyana’s Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, the Honourable Oneidge Walrond, who gave the feature address at the launch, told attendees and viewers that the region was seeking a particular kind of investor.

“We wish to attract the investor who’s committed to the sustainable development of the countries and communities within which he or she operates and from which they derive value. We seek those who will remain with us through thick and thin and as we experience those inevitable external shocks that are the reality of our Caribbean existence. In short, we wish to see patient investment which prioritises long term returns that emanate from the sustainable, resilient economies that we hope to build, rather than cashing in on short term windfalls. Our ideal investor has a long-term horizon for return on capital as opposed to the infamous quarterly earnings targets which are manifestly ill-matched to the realities of our economies and our existence,” she said.

CIF Guyana 2024 will feature a special app that will allow attendees to book B2B sessions with investors and business leaders. Attendees will participate in plenary sessions, gain insight into thoroughly vetted, bankable projects, and learn more about regional products and services through an investment village and expo which will include booths from companies and start-ups from across Guyana and the wider Caribbean.

CIF is designed to unlock potential investment opportunities within the Caribbean across several sectors. Its objectives are to:

  • Raise the visibility of the region as an investment destination
  • Attract investment into the priority sectors identified with a focus on those needed to support the transition of the region to a greener and smarter economy
  • Assemble the international investment community so that agreements can be forged on key priorities that will fast-track the region’s transition
  • Work towards attaining the sustainable development goals focused on poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, decent work and economic growth, life on land and partnerships.


The event is held in collaboration with respective country governments, the European Union, the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Caribbean Development Bank, with Republic Bank as a platinum sponsor.

Visit https://caribbeaninvestmentforum.com to learn more about CIF.

Caribbean Export engages with President Ali and the Government of Guyana on bringing investment into the Caribbean

The 2024 Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF 2024) was at the forefront of the agenda during our Executive Director’s recent mission to Guyana from January 29-February 1, 2024. The Caribbean Investment Forum has emerged as the premiere regional forum bringing investors and businesses together to create deals in sectors that can drive regional transformation.

During the visit, Mr. Maharaj conducted high-level meetings with H.E., the President and key policy makers. He also engaged in dialogue with the CARICOM Secretary-General, development partners, the media and other stakeholders.

His Excellency President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali confirmed the government’s partnership in hosting CIF 2024 from July 10-12, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Georgetown, Guyana. “I am delighted with the commitment of the President to this flagship initiative. Guyana clearly recognises CIF 2024 as a pivotal platform to bring investments to the Region to create jobs and opportunities for Caribbean people.” said Mr. Maharaj.

He added, “We are excited to showcase sustainable agriculture investment opportunities and innovation in the heart of the Caribbean’s breadbasket.”

The Caribbean Investment Forum is a crucial platform for shaping the region’s economic landscape by helping steer private investments in transformative sectors such as sustainable agriculture, technology and innovation and the green economy transition.

Discussions with the Secretary-General and other CARICOM officials explored avenues to extend partnerships from CIF to other programming areas. CARICOM has again committed to partnering with Caribbean Export for CIF 2024.

Mr. Maharaj had constructive engagements with other stakeholders, including Dr. Peter Ramsaroop who leads the Guyana Investment Agency. He remains supportive of advancing our impactful initiatives in the region. As Caribbean Export implements the Regional Private Sector Programme on behalf of the European Union, our focus will be on a few key areas. These include accelerating regional development through promoting green economy practices and digital transition. We will also focus on supporting Small and Medium Enterprises’ access to finance through the expansion of the range of financial offerings.

The short but fruitful mission strengthened existing relationships and lays the foundation for an exciting Caribbean Investment Forum 2024 which will help create jobs and opportunity for Caribbean people.

New Regional Ferry Project Launched by Private Sector Consortium Conceived at Caribbean Investment Forum

  • Caribbean Investment Forum brought together members of ‘Connect Caribe’ ferry consortium
  • ‘Connect Caribe’ expects to launch a cargo and passenger ferry service in region by Q4 of 2024
  • Consortium aims to reduce region’s food import bill, enhance transportation, and create jobs

A private sector-led regional ferry service, set to be launched at the end of 2024, could revolutionise the way goods and people are transported around the Caribbean.

The newly-announced joint venture under the ‘Connect Caribe’ brand will initially see heavy and light cargo and agricultural produce transported around the Eastern Caribbean, before a passenger service is added on, along with additional stops throughout the region.

Led by Upturn Funds Caribbean (part of Pleion Group Inc), the consortium was established as a direct result of the company’s participation in a roundtable on transportation and logistics at the 2022 Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the European Union, and its partners.

CIF is the biggest and most prestigious investment and trade event in the region. It attracts 500-600 business delegates, stakeholders, and decision makers from around the world to connect and collaborate with regional innovators, public and private sector leaders, and entrepreneurs. In 2022 and 2023, CIF was held in Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas respectively. Guyana will host the event this year.

In a previous media statement, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Upturn Funds Caribbean, Ambassador Dr Andre Thomas, credited the CIF roundtable with playing “a pivotal role in shaping the outcome of the strategic partnership formed with key participants”. He added: “Great projects are like puzzles…[at CIF] we found pieces that were missing in our puzzle to deliver a transport and logistics maritime project to the Caribbean.”

Today (23 January 2024), at a press conference in Bridgetown, Ambassador Thomas, revealed further information on the multi-million dollar ferry project and outlined the importance of it to the region’s long-term economic development and empowerment.

Dr Thomas shared that the project will eventually consist of three vessels including a large ferry that will carry 800 passengers; a fast ferry capable of transporting 435 passengers; and a cargo ship that will initially service Barbados, Suriname, St Vincent, and St Lucia before expanding to other countries in the region.

He said that the standard fare is expected to be around $100 (US) for a roundtrip excluding various taxes and government charges. At least 270 jobs will be created during the first phase of the project.

Ambassador Thomas added: “We have embarked on a very important journey to bring the aspirations of regional maritime transportation from concept to a reality. When we began this journey about 18 months ago, we proceeded to read every single study that had been done on maritime transportation. We felt that if there ever was a project that would affect the lives of men and women across the Caribbean, it would be this such project…

“We had to create a consortium that would be made up of key players in different sectors of the maritime industry and also bring in an ecommerce element. So we have partnered with Windward Ferries, Ramps Logistics, JS Cruises and Tours / The Maritime Institute, and HCIS Consortium, to create this company.”

Chairman/President of JS Cruises & Tours and Chairman/President of The Maritime Institute of Barbados, Judeen Scantlebury, believes the project will “stimulate economic growth, promote tourism, and enhance connectivity between the islands.” She continued: “I believe this service has the potential to truly transform the way our people travel throughout the region.”

President of Connect Caribe’s ecommerce division, Anthony Hinkson, said the project could potentially allow for next-day delivery within the region which was not possible with the current infrastructure.

He added: “We are here to support CARICOM’s vision of a single market across our region. Within our region we have many wonderful business people, young people, entrepreneurs, and we want to help them be the best that they can be…The Connect Caribe e-shop will facilitate trade via our transport services and is a major step in seeing the global dominance of our upcoming regional brands.”