Caribbean firms increased market share and developed new global partnerships, Caribbean Export reveals in annual results

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  • Caribbean Export’s Annual Results Report 2022 released to stakeholders at event in Barbados.
  • Results Report shows 1,000 regional business professionals took part in 30 interventions.
  • Agency received highest ever  implementation rate of 89%

Over 135 regional micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) received over $2.1m (US) in funding to boost their businesses last year, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has revealed in its Annual Results Report – 2022.

Caribbean Export released its ‘Annual Results Report – 2022’ at the Hilton Barbados on Thursday 20 April in front of an audience consisting of local, regional and international stakeholders, diplomats, beneficiaries, Caribbean Export employees, and the media.

The report outlined how the regional trade and investment promotion agency has focused on a transformational agenda to build a ‘GREENer, SMARTer, and more resilient Caribbean’ by empowering over 1,000 business professionals through 30 interventions such as training, workshops, investment forums, and access to international tradeshows.

Caribbean Export’s Executive Director, Deodat Maharaj, said he was particularly proud of the agency’s 89% implementation rate which he believed was making “a real difference on the ground” to MSMEs which account for 70% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product and 75% of its total employment.

He thanked the European Union (EU) for its “long and enduring” support while revealing efforts to bring more financial partners onboard such as the CAF-development bank of Latin America and Republic Bank.

Mr Maharaj stated: “We are at a critical crossroads and we have the option of focusing on business as usual or advancing a truly transformational agenda for our region, giving jobs and opportunity for our people… At Caribbean Export we will continue to strive for excellence and value for money with a forensic focus on results, results, results.”

Barbados’ Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Business Development, Sandra Husbands, congratulated Caribbean Export on “a year of work that was very well done”. She emphasised how important the private sector is to the region for its overall stability, growth, and development before calling on MSMEs to “take full advantage” of the funding and programmes offered by Caribbean Export and its financial partners.

During the event, guests also heard impactful video testimonials from entrepreneurs based in Belize, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Barbados who have partnered with Caribbean Export. In person, Sabrina Walcott from O’s Incorporated, which produces gluten-free flours and mixes made from breadfruit, sweet potato, and cassava in Barbados, was full of praise for the agency’s help which she said had given the business “knowledge and experience, and encouragement to venture into new areas”. She credited Caribbean Export with moving the Barbadian brand from “her mother’s kitchen to a tailor-made factory”.

Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the EU to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, OECS, and CARICOM / CARIFORUM, David Mogollon, reiterated the bloc’s unwavering commitment to Caribbean Export’s work.

Since 2017, the EU has invested over €27.5m (EUROS) in grants into the Regional Private Sector Programme to support the implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) which represents around 90% of Caribbean Export’s budget. Mr Mogollon confirmed the EU will continue to partner with Caribbean Export to improve economic growth in the region especially in terms of digital transformation.

Chairperson of Caribbean Export’s Board of Directors, Dr Lynette Holder, underscored the range and reach of Caribbean Export’s projects and programmes in 2022, including the highly-successful Caribbean Investment Forum (CIF) held in Trinidad and Tobago in October which attracted 535 delegates from 46 countries.

She revealed that CIF 2023 will take place in the Bahamas later this year. Ms Holder added: “It has been a transformative year for the agency. A strong foundation has been built and Caribbean Export has a bright future ahead. I am sure it will remain a key partner of choice in the region and continue to address the present and future needs of its members.”