An urgent call is being made for local financiers to join the growing list of regional counterparts set to participate and learn about financing the cultural and creative industries at this year's staging of the International Creative Exchange Caribbean (ICEC) investor and investment readiness conference which begins today.
The online conference (ICEC INVEST), which is to run from October 5-7, presents a platform for creative and cultural entrepreneurs to connect with financial institution and other industry experts as they dialogue and engage in a series of private and face-to-face sessions and workshops, geared towards creating a pipeline of opportunities for bridging investor and investment readiness across the Caribbean.
Already attracting the support of some regional heavyweights including the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Bahamas Development Bank and the Caribbean Export Development Agency among other global institutions, organisers of the conference have bemoaned the lack of interest they have so far seen from the local financial sector.
"We have contacted a number of them who have agreed to the importance of the conference, but they have not come back to confirm their participation and so we would really like to very strongly encourage them to get on board. We now have regional investment institutions signed up as well as some other international ones, but we want to see our local players being a part of this very important conference," said Olayinka Jacobs Bonnick, project lead and head of local advocacy group South South Collective, during an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
"The conference will also present an opportunity for investment bankers to network with other counterparts from across the world so I'm imploring our local representatives to sign up or to just reach out to us," she added.
Local CCIs, which are cited among big revenue generators, are currently estimated at six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Globally the industry made up of a number of sectors and subsectors spanning music and the arts, is projected by UNESCO to in the next few years, account for approximately 10 per cent of global GDP.
The local financial sector, which has long complained about the lack of formalisation across CCIs and the difficulty it has in financing these businesses, is therefore being urged to participate in the conference and to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from key industry experts such as Ouafa Belgacem, chief executive officer (CEO) of Culture Funding Watch, who is to headline the conference and share best practices on just how to do so.
Quafa, who has twice been named among the top 100 most influential persons in Africa, is expected to lead financiers from the Global South, creative practitioners and entrepreneurs through the process of navigating the retail and investment spaces.
The expert said that with financial institutions such as the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) recently committing over US$500 million in funds for CCIs on that continent, the returns on investment for funding businesses within the sector are perceived to be fruitful.
"This conference is therefore an opportunity for investors, philanthropists and businesses in Jamaica to identify their own opportunities," she said to the Business Observer.