Caribbean Export pushing regional businesses
From left: Sandra Husbands, Barbados’ minister of state in foreign trade and business development in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Deodat Maharaj, executive director of the Caribbean Export; Senator Dr Lynette Holder, chairman of Caribbean Export; and Malgorzata Wasilewska, EU ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, OECS and Caricom/CARIFORUM, at the launch of Caribbean Export’s 2021 Annual Results Report held at the Barbados Hilton Hotel.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency has been playing a key role in helping small businesses across the region to reboot and recover from the onslaught of the novel coronavirus pandemic by preparing them for the export market.

Speaking at the launch of its 2021 annual report held recently, executive director of the agency Deodat Maharaj touted the advancement of exports, foreign direct investment security and the building of partnerships with financial institutions as important areas of focus for the entity.

“Caribbean Export has a forensic focus on delivering results, it’s not only about the workshops, but it’s about creating measurable impact where it matters on the ground. We are essentially a one-stop nonstop shop providing key, concrete and practical support to businesses across the Caribbean to generate jobs and opportunity for people,” he said.

Citing statistics which points to about 80 per cent of employment and more than 75 per cent of gross domestic (GDP) being generated by small businesses, he said greater focus must be given to these sectors.

Dr Lynette Holder, chairman of Caribbean Export, who is also the chief executive officer (CEO) for the Small Business Association of Barbados, in lauding the agency for what she deemed as “its action-oriented steps to provide direct and concrete support for mico, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), said that its assistance in capacity-building for e-commerce as well as its provision of direct grants funded by the European Union were of great significance.

In 2021 there were three calls for grants totalling more than US$3.5 million, which the agency said benefited 157 firms across the region. Approximately four virtual global investment forums were also held which helped to raise the profile of the Caribbean as a favourable location for potential investors on the world stage.

According to European Union (EU) Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, MSMEs in the Caribbean for the last two decades have been supported with substantial amounts in grant funding and technical assistance by her organisation stemming from its commitment to their development.

“Our latest investment of 27.6 million euros (US$29 million) has supported economic growth, job creation, social inclusion, and reached a broader community impact,” she noted.

Barbados’ minister of state in foreign trade and business development Sandra Husbands, who was also in attendance at the launch, said that with the success of regional businesses being at the forefront of economic stability for most countries, it is encouraging “to have a regional agency that is able to identify businesses and groom them for export and in generating results.”

“Caribbean Export has proven that it understands the nuances of the micro and small businesses of our region and their constraints,” she said.

Caricom Secretary General Dr Carla Barnett, in further congratulating the agency for the work it has been doing, said that with the region now at a critical crossroads, it was imperative for all hands to remain on deck in the building of resilience and sustainable livelihoods.

“These are challenging times financially and therefore our regional institutions and agencies must continue to demonstrate value for money and the delivery of clear and quantifiable results for our people,” she added.

BARNETT...These are challenging times financially and therefore our regional institutions and agencies must continue to demonstrate value for money and the delivery of clear and quantifiable results for our people.

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