Above: officials on hand in Washington at the announcement of the project (Photo: Patricia Leiva)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Five CARICOM member states, including Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and St Lucia will be the sites of a joint OAS-United States project to establish Small Business Development Centres in the region.
The initiative’s objective is to help improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in the Caribbean, particularly those headed by women.
Caribbean and Latin American companies have “long recognized the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises as major contributors to employment and growth within their communities, nations and the region as a whole,” said OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza.
According to the Secretary General, the small business sector accounts for 70 percent of the jobs and more than 50 percent of GDP in the region.
“SMEs are the engines of growth in the Americas continent,” said Carmen Lomellin, the United States’ Permanent Representative to the OAS.
Lomellin said the US government supported enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs in the region, from the exchange of experiences and best practices to cooperation.
The programme, which will be implemented by the OAS Executive Secretary of Integral Development, seeks to facilitate SME access to international markets in the Caribbean, and to give advice and training to guide companies in their growth.
It has already been implemented in countries across the Americas, including Mexico, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.