A Barbados-based private sector development programme established six years ago to help regional economies improve their competitiveness helped create over 6,500 jobs in 15 Caribbean countries, officials said last night.
Funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government of Canada and the United Kingdom Department for International Development, Compete Caribbean provides technical assistance, grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate forums, clustering initiatives and small and medium sized enterprise development activities in Barbados and the Caribbean region.
The first phase of the programme, which was facilitated by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) focused on three main areas – research and knowledge management, business reform and innovation and the creation of clusters – is coming to an end, with phase two expected to begin next January.
During a stocktaking and celebratory event at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last night, officials lauded the programme, saying it had produced significant results.
Speaking via a recorded video message, IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno said he was pleased that Compete Caribbean had helped a number of regional companies to be export ready.
“It’s helped innovation in the region’s private sector.
It is making it easier to do business in every country involved, and it is even promoting best business practices,” said Moreno.
“And it is equally shaping a growing consensus about which policies can boost growth.”
Director of projects at the CDB Daniel Best said he was pleased that the programme had helped to solve some of the key challenges facing the region’s private sector, including a weak enabling environment, limited capacity for innovation and insufficient linkage opportunities among small and medium sized enterprises.
Meanwhile, outlining the lessons learned and some of the successes of the programme, private sector lead specialist at the IDB division of competitiveness, technology and innovation Sylvia Dohnert said one of the most outstanding success stories of the programme was Jamaica’s leap in the Access to Finance Section of the World Bank’s Doing Business report.
“Access to finance is one of the biggest complaints of the private sector in the region and perhaps the most successful reform that we supported was to the government of Jamaica to develop a legal framework for secured concessions as well as to implement a . . . registry, and that contributed to Jamaica jumping 97 positions [from 109 to 12] in the Doing Business ranking in access to credit, from one year to another,” she reported.