BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The Organization of American States (OAS) will set up small business development centres in a number of Caribbean countries to help them improve their competitiveness.
In announcing the program for Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia, OAS general secretary, Jose Miguel Insulza, said that small and medium-sized enterprises in the region accounted for 70 per cent of jobs created and more than 50 per cent of the gross domestic product.
“With the right support and a structured, sustainable framework, these businesses can play an even more important role in the production network offering numerous opportunities for increased prosperity and poverty alleviation throughout the CARICOM region,” he said.
Escipion Oliveira, Deputy Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, said the project will give assistance both socially and economically to small and medium-sized businesses.
“It is now the time to diversify our economy and in believing in ourselves and developing the internal market of the Caribbean,” he said.
Under the project, small and medium-sized businesses will be able to access expert advice, training and mentoring programs to give them guidance in growth and competitiveness with a special focus on empowering women who work in the sector.
The project was implemented in the United States and has recorded success for the last 35 years through a partnership between government, the universities and the private sector.
The Caribbean program was implemented by the OAS Executive Secretary of Integral Development, and is supported by the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Caribbean Export Development Agency. It is funded by the United States Mission to the OAS.
There are more than 1,000 similar centres already established in the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, the Dominican Public, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama which help businesses to expand international trade opportunities.