More than 135 regional micro-small-and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) received over US$2.1 million in funding to boost their businesses last year, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has revealed in its 2022 annual report.
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 per cent implementation rate which he believed was making “a real difference on the ground” to MSMEs which account for 70 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product and 75 per cent of its total employment.
He also thanked the European Union (EU) for its “long and enduring” support while revealing efforts to bring more financial partners on board such as the CAF-development bank of Latin America and Republic Bank.
“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,” Maharaj said.
Caribbean Export noted that 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 per cent of Caribbean Export’s budget.
Dr Lynette Holder, chairman of Caribbean Export Development Agency also noted that in 2022, the agency executed the Caribbean Investment Forum, a landmark event in Port-of-Spain that signalled that the Caribbean is open for business.
She said the event attracted over 600 delegates exploring the most attractive investment opportunities in technology, agriculture, renewable energy, and innovation.