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 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.”

Caribbean Export and the European Union Launch the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III

In a significant move to fortify the Caribbean private sector, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and the European Union (EU) have formalized their commitment with the signing of a new agreement, heralding the launch of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III.

The new Regional Private Sector Development Programme III (RPSDP), with a total co-financed budget allocation of €12 million (€8 million EU contribution) over four years, builds upon the previous programmes, addressing critical challenges the private sector is facing in the region and fostering economic resilience and growth. This programme is a clear example on how the European Union is delivering the Global Gateway strategy in the Caribbean. The Global Gateway is the EU’s offer to bridge the existing investment gap in the areas of fair, green and digital transition, by using EU public financing to leverage private capital and investment for projects that deliver on key public policy objectives.

The signing ceremony held on November 23rd, 2023 at the Residence of the European Union Ambassador in Barbados, saw the Deputy Director-General for International Partnerships for the European Commission, Myriam Ferran, emphasizing that “the European Union wants to do more business with the Caribbean in key areas such as clean and sustainable energies, transport infrastructure, digital transformation, health and education”

She went on to highlight “the European Union want to be the region’s partner of choice. And for that, the EU is putting at the region’s disposal not only financial support but also a combination of hard infrastructure investments with flanking measures in the regulatory frameworks, improving the business and investment environment, developing human capital, and building a more secure global supply chain”.

Caribbean Export has been a trusted implementing partner of the European Union for close to three decades and remains committed to driving economic transformation through private sector development. This new RPSDP III places more emphasis on the areas that can accelerate regional development. These focus areas include green economy and digital transition; Small and Medium Enterprise access to finance through the expansion of the range of financial offerings; and the expansion of trade and investment under the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement.

Deodat Maharaj, Executive Director at Caribbean Export underscored to critical importance of the private sector to the regions development: “The private sector is at the forefront of Caribbean economies, and empowering it is crucial for sustainable development and resilience.” He went on to share “this programme is a transformative step towards building a more resilient private sector, fostering innovation, and unlocking the vast potential for trade and investment in the Caribbean region.”

Recognizing the pivotal role of the private sector, including Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), in driving economic recovery and growth, the programme seeks to overcome structural impediments within business ecosystems. These include regulatory bottlenecks, limited access to finance, inadequate business support organizations, and critical infrastructure gaps.

The RPSDP III, aims at supporting firm competitiveness, diversification and export potential with strong focus on green transition and digital transformation.

This comprehensive program encompasses a transition to green practices and business models. Central to its vision is the empowerment of SMEs, with a focus on broadening financial landscapes through equity financing, venture capital, and angel investing. Additionally, RPSDP III seeks to enhance trade and investment by strengthening technical capabilities for EU trade standards and fostering robust B2B linkages, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the Caribbean and the EU under the Economic Partnership Agreement.

As a catalyst for economic transformation the Regional Private Sector Development Programme III signals a new era for the Caribbean private sector, poised to overcome challenges, embrace sustainability, and unlock unprecedented opportunities for growth, innovation, and international collaboration.

Caribbean Export Commits to Supporting the Creation of 400,000 Jobs in a Decade Following Caribbean Investment Forum

The Caribbean Investment Forum, a beacon for economic growth and innovation, concluded just last week with the Caribbean Export Development Agency committing to help create 400,000 jobs over the next ten years. This ambitious objective serves as a testament to the region’s dedication to driving economic growth and innovation. High-level participants from within the Region and out of the Caribbean, including those from institutions, all called for “A Bold New Caribbean” to create jobs and opportunities for Caribbean people.

During the Fireside Chat, between Dr. Brathwaite, Founding Managing Partner of Celesta Capital, and JoEllen Laryea, Manager of Communications, Partnerships, and Advocacy at Caribbean Export, Dr. Brathwaite provided valuable insights on unlocking innovation and investment in the Caribbean, playing a pivotal role in shaping this goal.

Dr. Brathwaite emphasized several key areas:

Collaborative Ecosystem: Dr. Brathwaite underscored the necessity of building a collaborative ecosystem in the Caribbean. Collaboration among governments, universities, corporations, and investors can create a supportive environment for startups and entrepreneurs.

Education and Talent Development: He highlighted the importance of investing in education and talent development, particularly in technology and entrepreneurship. Developing a skilled workforce is crucial for leveraging the opportunities presented by disruptive technologies.

Access to Capital: Dr. Brathwaite acknowledged that access to capital remains a challenge in the Caribbean. He encouraged the region to explore innovative funding mechanisms, including venture capital and angel investing, to support early-stage startups.

Building on Local Strengths: Dr. Brathwaite suggested leveraging local strengths and resources to drive innovation in the Caribbean. For example, the region’s proximity to the United States can be an advantage for tech startups looking to expand into North American markets.

Regulatory Environment: He stressed the need for a favorable regulatory environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. Clear and supportive regulations can attract investment and foster business growth.

Caribbean Export’s commitment to creating 400,000 jobs aligns perfectly with the Caribbean Investment Forum 2023, emphasizing the multi-faceted approach required to unlock innovation and investment in the Caribbean. Collaboration, education, access to capital, leveraging local strengths, and a supportive regulatory framework all contribute to the region’s thriving innovation ecosystem.

This visionary goal sets a clear direction for the region, fostering a conducive environment for entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation. Caribbean Export, with its unwavering commitment, is poised to be at the forefront of driving economic growth and transformation in the Caribbean.

To create 400,000 jobs in the next 10 years, Caribbean Export, together with its partners, will focus on key strategies that support the development of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through financial assistance, training, and market access initiatives. Additionally, Caribbean Export will continue to promote investments in crucial sectors such as infrastructure, resilient agriculture and agribusiness, and the transition to green energy. Strategic collaboration with international partners and fostering regional trade will further boost export-oriented businesses and job creation. The projects featured in the Caribbean Investment Forum are at the core of this strategy, as these initiatives promote regional growth and development.

The Agency envisioned the Caribbean Investment Forum to serve as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation, bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts to explore opportunities, showcase innovative ventures, and exchange ideas.

For more information, please visit the Caribbean Investment Forum’s official website at

Caribbean Export and Business France Join Forces to Catalyze Private Sector Growth in the Caribbean

Caribbean Export, the pioneering regional trade and investment promotion agency representing the Caribbean, has cemented another strategic partnership to accelerate private sector growth in the Caribbean. The agency has teamed up with Business France, National Agency for the promotion and internationalization of the French economy. Together, they aim to create an environment conducive to growth and innovation, facilitating investment and trade flows between France and the Caribbean region. 

This landmark collaboration, officially sealed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), sets the stage for a close and mutually beneficial partnership between Caribbean Export and Business France. The MOU outlines a range of areas of cooperation, each designed to drive progress and growth for the private sector in the Caribbean region. 

The key areas of cooperation are as follows: 

  1. Exchange of Information: The Parties will share information and knowledge on training, capacity building, technology transfer, and business opportunities. This sharing of data will provide valuable insights and help bridge the gap between France and the Caribbean. 
  • Technical Collaboration and Best Practices Exchange: The cooperation will extend to enhancing the ease of doing business and the effectiveness of their respective organizations. The exchange of technical expertise, knowledge, and training opportunities will foster growth and competitiveness in the region. 
  • Effective Business Promotion: Both Caribbean Export and Business France will work together to support business delegations, encourage expert visits for fact-finding, and participation in events organized by each party. Follow-up and support for these activities are assured. 
  • Investment and Trade Facilitation: This collaboration aims to encourage reciprocal investment and export of services, along with the provision of facilitation services to investors and exporters. Guidance and advice for potential investors and exporters will be a cornerstone of this cooperative effort. 

Deodat Maharaj, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, expressed his enthusiasm for this strategic partnership, saying, “We are thrilled to join forces with Business France to strengthen the private sector in the Caribbean. Our collaboration will unlock new opportunities for businesses in our region and foster economic growth. Together, we will build bridges that connect the Caribbean to France, creating a platform for innovation, trade, and investment.” 

Philippe Yvergniaux, Director for International Cooperation at Business France, outlined the importance of this new milestone for the French agency : “the Caribbean region clearly deserved a better place in Business France’s geographic priorities, as it offers many trade and investment opportunities for French SMEs; the partnership with Caribbean Export will help foster trade links between Caribbean and French SMEs, in particular from the Guadeloupe, Guyane and Martinique territories”.

Caribbean Export is known for its unwavering commitment to increasing market intelligence, fostering access to finance for export-ready SMEs, and advocating for an enabling environment for business growth. Business France, on the other hand, has an impressive track record of developing internationalization for French companies and attracting foreign investment into France. 

Through this partnership, both entities will leverage their strengths and experiences to facilitate the growth of the private sector in the Caribbean, leading to economic development and enhanced global competitiveness. This collaboration marks a significant milestone in the region’s business landscape and opens doors to opportunities that promise to benefit both the Caribbean and France. 

Caribbean Investment Forum Showcases Entrepreneurial Excellence at ‘Survival of the Pitchest’ Competition

The Caribbean Investment Forum, a prestigious annual event dedicated to fostering economic growth and innovation, witnessed a spectacular showcase of entrepreneurial prowess at the ‘Survival of the Pitchest’ competition, held on October 24, 2023. This event was a highlight of the forum, offering a platform for startups from the Caribbean and beyond to pitch their groundbreaking ideas and compete for prestigious prizes.

Caribbean Export Development Agency, the driving force behind the Caribbean Investment Forum, is delighted to announce that the competition received a staggering 155 entries from 18 different countries. The remarkable turnout demonstrates the increasing enthusiasm and potential of startups in the Caribbean and the wider region.

Out of the talented pool of applicants, seven companies were selected to present their innovative ideas and business models on the grand stage. These budding entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to showcase their creativity, dedication, and vision, making it a night to remember.

The competition would not have been possible without the generous support of its sponsors, which included Draper Start Up House Caribbean, Access Accelerator Small Business Development Center – The Bahamas, Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Zwede Hewitt, Virgin Atlantic, and Caribbean Airlines. These organizations played a pivotal role in making the event a resounding success, demonstrating their commitment to nurturing entrepreneurship and innovation.

“The SBDC’s partnership with Caribbean Export has produced many successful initiatives and programs, dating as far back as 2019. We are delighted to have partnered with Caribbean Export for the 2023 Caribbean Investment Forum, and our sponsorship commitment is a testament to such a fruitful collaborative partnership,” shared Samantha Rolle, Executive Director at SBDC.

“What we saw during the ‘Survival of the Pitchest’ competition was merely a snapshot of the fostering of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) that support regional transformation to a bold new Caribbean.

We are grateful to our partners at Caribbean Export, Draper Start Up House, and Invest TCI for executing a successful event and wish to congratulate all seven 7 finalists, especially the top 3 finishers from Rifbid, Limeade Bahamas & The Farmhouse Bistro.

It is my hope that these business owners continue to make a positive impact on the development and growth of MSMEs throughout the Caribbean,” added Samantha Rolle.

The ‘Survival of the Pitchest’ competition featured an array of prizes, including a top cash prize of $10,000 USD, along with non-cash prizes from Virgin Atlantic and Caribbean Airlines. These valuable incentives added an extra layer of excitement to the event, motivating participants to deliver their best pitches.

The results of the competition are as follows:

1st Place:

Keeghan Patrick – Rifbid – Saint Lucia

Rifbid is an AI-powered procurement platform that connects governments and suppliers, streamlining the procurement process and facilitating shorter pay cycles. Keeghan Patrick’s visionary approach earned him the coveted first-place position.

2nd Place:

Joshua Miller – Limeade Bahamas – The Bahamas

Joshua Miller’s journey began with a father teaching his son to sell limeade for profit, eventually leading to Limeade Bahamas becoming a successful wholesale business serving over 100 stores. Their diverse product line, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, has made a significant impact.

3rd Place:

Romero Dorsette – The FarmHouse Bistro – The Bahamas

The FarmHouse Bistro, under Romero Dorsette’s leadership, combines the charm of a farmhouse with a contemporary dining experience. Their commitment to the farm-to-table movement, sustainability, and culinary craftsmanship has earned them a well-deserved place in the top three.

Natasha Walcott, Senior Advisor for Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export, expressed her enthusiasm for the burgeoning startup ecosystem in the Caribbean, saying, “Caribbean Export is pleased to play its part in the burgeoning start-up ecosystem in the Caribbean. We work with MSMEs throughout the region, and we recognize the challenges that they face in establishing their businesses and expanding.”

Walcott went on to extend heartfelt congratulations to all the finalists and winners and recognized the invaluable support of the event’s sponsors. She stated, “Caribbean Export couldn’t have done this without the unwavering support of sponsors including the Small Business Development Centre Bahamas, Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, Mr. Zwede Hewitt, Virgin Atlantic, and Caribbean Airlines.”

The ‘Survival of the Pitchest’ competition at the Caribbean Investment Forum underscores the region’s commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. As startups and innovative ideas continue to flourish, the Caribbean Investment Forum remains a beacon of opportunity and success.

For more information, please visit the Caribbean Investment Forum’s official website at

Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 Ends with Rallying Call for Region’s Public and Private Sector to Embrace Transformational Agenda

  • Highly successful Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 (CIF 2023) concludes in Nassau, Bahamas
  • Day two of CIF 2023 included a ministerial roundtable, panel discussions, and country pitches
  • Co-operative Republic of Guyana will host Caribbean Investment Forum in 2024

Innovation, transformation, diversification, and collaboration were the words for the day as the Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 (CIF 2023) came to a close in Nassau, Bahamas on Wednesday 25 October.

The influential regional conference which attracted over 500 business delegates representing 40 countries was staged at the Atlantis Resort by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) with the support of the Government of the Bahamas, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the European Union’s Global Gateway Initiative.

Day two of CIF 2023 began with a high-powered ministerial roundtable moderated by Caribbean Export’s Executive Director, Deodat Maharaj, and featuring the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation of the Bahamas, Chester Cooper; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce in Guyana, Oneidge Walrond; and the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development in the Dominican Republic, Pavel Isa Contreras.

The hour-long discussion entitled ‘The Trade Investment Nexus Towards Creating a Bold New Caribbean’ touched on a wide range of issues impacting the Caribbean’s ability to do business and attract investment.

Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Chester Cooper, explained how the Bahamas has successfully attracted $8bn dollars (US) of foreign-direct investment over the past two years. He said: “Our international reputation of tourism and financial services, our God-given gift of location close to the USA has been helpful, along with a growing economy, stable political environment, and great international framework reputation has also been really helpful but there has to be a policy imperative upfront…

Mr Cooper added: “When the government came to office, the Prime Minister declared that the Bahamas is “open for business” and that simple declaration was an invitation to the world to participate in a very open economy, a welcoming environment where we have a framework that generally makes it easy to do business. That declaration, and the facilitation to get it done, has also been key.”

Ms Walrond spoke about ongoing efforts in Guyana to diversify the economy beyond oil. She outlined how oil resources are used to grow and support other sectors including agriculture and ICT and said the IMF, in a recent country report, praised Guyana for its efforts and “lauded it as a model for development”.

In the Dominican Republic, Mr Isa Contreras highlighted the country’s push to embrace green energy. He revealed that it is on track to generate a quarter of its electricity from renewables in 2025 which has been helped by the introduction of legislation which offers several incentives for individuals and businesses.

He also shared how the Dominican Republic is expecting to secure $4.5bn dollars (US) in foreign-direct investment in 2023. He stated: “The key is confidence. There is a lot of confidence from national and international investors…it is also about diversification. The Dominican economy, even though its most well known sector is tourism, has a strong domestic industrial sector, service and telecommunications sector, as well as agriculture. Foreign-direct Investment is happening in all those sectors.”

The thought-provoking agenda for the Forum’s second day also included a keynote presentation from the Founding Managing Partner of Celesta Capital, Dr Nicholas Brathwaite, on ‘Preparing the Caribbean’s Next Unicorn: Disruptive Technologies and the Venture Capital Ecosystem’.

Two lively panel discussions from Caribbean entrepreneurs and business leaders on ‘Unpacking the Bold New Caribbean – What it takes to Evolve and Become’ and ‘Ships May Even Fly: Promoting Investment in Logistics and Transportation’ were also on the schedule for day two, before the event concluded with business meetings and networking opportunities.

It was also announced that the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana will host next year’s Caribbean Investment Forum.

Visit the official CIF 2023 website for more information –

Caribbean Export and Republic Bank Extend Cooperation MOU to Empower Caribbean Businesses

Republic Bank Financial Holdings Limited and the Caribbean Export Development Agency have officially extended a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at enhancing economic growth and creating jobs throughout the region.

The landmark MOU, which was originally signed in Trinidad in March 2022, combines the resources and expertise of these two major Caribbean business organisations to enhance the global competitiveness of Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in CARIFORUM states through a referral system.
By extending this agreement, both entities have renewed their commitment to boosting commerce regionally and internationally, while offering MSMEs much-needed practical advice, training, and support on how to access export markets.

Executive Director of Caribbean Export, Deodat Maharaj, outlined the significant value of the ongoing strategic partnership. He said: “In today’s globalised and rapidly evolving business landscape, the importance of fostering robust public-private and private-private partnerships cannot be overstated. Collaborations like the one we’ve established with Republic Bank Financial Holdings Limited are pivotal in accelerating the growth of Caribbean businesses.

“These alliances facilitate knowledge sharing, resource pooling, and synergistic efforts that empower our local entrepreneurs and SMEs to tap into the vast potential of international markets.”

Unlocking Opportunities for Caribbean Businesses

The joint MOU unveils a comprehensive framework for continued cooperation and focuses on key areas that promise significant economic benefits for the region:

Building Export Potential: Caribbean Export will provide capacity-building programmes tailored to enhance the export potential of RFHL’s business customers, enabling local businesses to access international markets.

Sustainable Private Sector Development: The MOU establishes an operational partnership aimed at fostering sustainable private sector growth and regional integration in the Caribbean. This partnership seeks to bolster economic resilience by supporting entrepreneurship and regional trade initiatives.
Mutual Promotion of Services: Both parties will work hand in hand to promote their respective services among their clients, increasing awareness of their offerings and helping clients leverage a broader spectrum of resources.

President and CEO of Republic Bank, Nigel Baptiste, explained the value of exporting goods and services for the Caribbean. He stated: “Serving markets beyond our borders and region has not only become increasingly possible, but it has also transformed into a business imperative.”

Mr Baptiste added: “Today’s local and regional businesses of all sizes – including SMEs – should be exploring the expansion of export capacity as a progressive growth strategy. At Republic Bank, we seek to foster a mindset of exporting what we produce – whether goods, services, skills, or talent – to discover and satisfy demand in untapped markets, and positively impact the foreign currency earning capacity of the territories in which we operate. With this MOU, Republic Bank and Caribbean Export are solidifying a meaningful partnership that paves the way for eligible businesses across the Caribbean region to benefit from inspiration, guidance, and support to become export ready.”

Fostering Regional Economic Growth

Republic Bank, a leading Caribbean financial institution, and Caribbean Export, the regional trade and investment promotion agency, are dedicated to the ongoing development of Caribbean economies and equipping local businesses with the tools they need to learn, advance, and grow.

The extended MOU signed by these two vital Caribbean business organisations is further testament to the unwavering commitment of Republic Bank and Caribbean Export to accelerating Caribbean MSME expansion and improving the region’s export capabilities.

Caribbean Investment Forum Invites Foreign-Direct Investors and Regional Businesses to build ‘A Bold New Caribbean’

  • Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 (CIF 2023) gets under way in Nassau, Bahamas
  • Over 500 business delegates from 40 countries are at CIF 2023 to learn about regional projects
  • Renewable Energy, ICT, AgTech, and Logistics and Transport are CIF’s main investment focus

Transforming the Caribbean into a region that leverages the talents of its people and attracts investment into innovative business projects is the aim of the Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 (CIF 2023), which officially got under way today (Tuesday 24 October) in Nassau, Bahamas.

CIF 2023 envisions “a bold new Caribbean” where key sectors such as Agriculture Technology, Renewable Energy, Information and Communication Technology, and Logistics and Transport lead the sustainable development of regional economies, create greener, smarter jobs, and secure a brighter future for the next generation.

Hosted by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and its partners, CIF 2023 has attracted over 500 delegates from 40 countries. These attendees represent a wide cross section of global decision-makers from within the public and private sector who are looking to invest in the Caribbean as well as network and connect with regional innovators, business owners, and entrepreneurs.

In his feature address on the official opening day, entitled ‘Spotlighting the Caribbean for Investment’, Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Chester Cooper, told a packed conference room that the Forum was “a great opportunity” for the entire region to work better together.

Mr Cooper stated: “In a world marked by constant change and challenges, it is only by collaboration as a united Caribbean family, that we can realise our full potential…Economic development is at the heart of our collective aspirations. The Caribbean region is rich in resources both natural and human and we possess the ingredients for our further economic prosperity, however, our true potential can only be unlocked when we work together. By banding together we can form a formidable economic force.”

Mr Cooper shared the Bahamian government’s enthusiasm for the potential of the Forum to put the Caribbean at the forefront of the worldwide business community. He said: “Forum’s like this are critical to get us all on the same page of how to collaborate and how to engage cross-sector and cross-border investments throughout our region. We have the opportunity to leverage this initiative and work as a united front to create jobs, increase trade, and raise the standard of living for our people.”

One of the highlights of day one was the keynote presentation of Paul Ahlstrom, Managing Director of Alta Ventures on leveraging artificial intelligence for economic development. During his presentation he drew a striking parallel between data and oil, underscoring the immense value of data in today’s digital age. Just as oil fuelled the industrial revolution, data powers the information economy and offers substantial economic and societal benefits when effectively collected, processed, and analyzed. Further, Ahlstrom highlighted the pivotal role of data engineering in optimizing data utilization through processes like collection, cleaning, transformation, and integration. Ahlstrom stated “Innovation is the driving force behind economic growth. The Caribbean has the potential to be at the forefront of innovation, and this forum is a platform for exploring the possibilities.” He also provided ppractical examples that showcased data’s application in solving real-world challenges, emphasizing the essential role of imagination and creativity in leveraging its potential.

CIF 2023 is being held at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in Nassau. It features top-level presentations, panel discussions, ‘Investment Villages’, and exclusive side events. The Forum’s dynamic agenda covers various hot topics such as Artificial Intelligence, financing in the post-COVID Caribbean, and the Renewable Energy revolution.

Speakers include Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Sustainability Banking Group, John Eleoterio, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group, Aaron Bielenburg, and Founding Managing Partner at Celesta Capital, Dr Nicholas Brathwaite.

This is the second staging of the Caribbean Investment Forum. This year’s event is organised by the Caribbean Export Development Agency in collaboration with the Government of the Bahamas, CARICOM, the Caribbean Development Bank, and with the support of several regional sponsors as well as the European Union’s Global Gateway Initiative.

Visit the CIF 2023 website for more information –

Launch of the Caribbean Investment Forum 2023 Unveils a Visionary Era for Caribbean Development

The Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) 2023, kicked off with a grand launch event at Atlantis in the picturesque Bahamas, setting the stage for what is expected to be a transformative platform for businesses, investments, and strategic alliances across the Caribbean region. Moderated by Anastarcia Palacios, the launch event featured distinguished leaders, insightful presentations, and a clear vision for the future of Caribbean trade and investment.

Presented through the collaborative efforts of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, the European Union, the Government of the Bahamas, the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Caribbean Development Bank, CIF is a significant milestone for Caribbean businesses.

Under the theme “A Bold New Caribbean,” CIF has directed its focus toward critical areas to Caribbean development, including Agriculture Technology, renewable energy, digital business (e-commerce, innovation, and FinTech), and Logistics and Transport.

Deodat Maharaj, the Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, set the tone for the event, emphasizing CIF as the preeminent gathering of businesses and investors in the Caribbean for this year. “The Caribbean Export mantra is less talk and more business, and this will be the basis of CIF 2023 as we seek to drive a truly transformational agenda for our region with business playing a central leadership role to create jobs and opportunity for our people.”

Mr. Maharaj delved into the crucial imperative of transitioning toward a green economy and the transformative possibilities it holds for a region grappling with climate vulnerabilities and significant debt. He expounded, “What is not spoken about enough are the potential opportunities for the growth of the private sector in a green economy transition…it was estimated that decarbonisation will help create approximately 400,000 jobs”

CIF was designed as a catalyst for change and opportunity; a vehicle to fast track Caribbean development and reshape the region’s future. Chair of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Dr. Lynette Holder highlighted that the event “symbolizes a remarkable shift in our collective approach to securing the vital investments required for the economic development and diversification of our cherished region” in her remarks.

The Honorable Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Aviation, and Investments, introduced the distinguished Prime Minister of the Bahamas, The Honourable Philip Edward Brave Davis. As the head of state for the CIF Host Country, Prime Minister Davis extended a gracious welcome to the attendees and highlighted investment prospects in the Caribbean, with a particular spotlight on the Bahamas.

He applauded the potential in sectors such as tourism, energy, logistics, agriculture, and financial services, articulating what renders the Bahamas an attractive investment destination, including a skilled workforce, strategic proximity to the United States, and tax-neutral status.

Dr. Carla N. Barnett, Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat, underscored the monumental significance of CIF in forging strategic alliances and channeling investments for the Caribbean’s prosperity. Emphasizing the imperative of fostering a conducive business environment and attracting both intra-regional and foreign investments to fuel sustainable economic growth. Dr. Barnett urged attendees to harness the full spectrum of opportunities the Caribbean offers. “As we gather here on this momentous occasion, I implore each and every one of you to use this opportunity as the first step in a bigger plan. Build the relationships that will make lasting change. Network with intent. Ensure the full gamut of opportunities the Caribbean has to offer is on display.“

Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen, Ambassador to the Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, highlighted the robust partnership between the Caribbean and the European Union. In her Remarks, Her Excellency Van Steen, reinforced the critical importance of the European Union’s Global Gateway Strategy, aimed at bridging the investment divide and fortifying transformative investments, especially in clean and sustainable energy, transport infrastructure, and digital transformation. Further, the Amb shared that “the upcoming signature in Barbados, next month, of an agreement between the European Union and Caribbean Export, whereby the EU will provide a grant of EUR 8 million to support Caribbean businesses in their digital transformation, green transition, improve access to finance, and in supporting them navigate the EPA. This builds on the over EUR 50 million the EU has provided to Caribbean Export over the past decade.”

Director of Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Therese Turner-Jones, emphasized the need for partnerships, investment in infrastructure, and a new mindset for the Caribbean region. Referencing the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the region she shared “…we need to think big—if we learned anything from the last three years living through a pandemic—the lesson must be that there is no more business as usual.”

Sessions, meetings and pitches for the 2023 Caribbean Investment Forum start tomorrow October 24th, 2023, where hundreds of attendees come together with an emphasis on action, collaboration, and the pursuit of transformative investments that will drive the Caribbean’s growth and prosperity.

Learn more about the 2023 Caribbean Investment Forum when you visit