The Barbadian diaspora could be the source of millions in foreign exchange for the country, Industry Minister Ronald Toppin has declared, as the nation’s export promotion and investment agency launched three programmes aimed at boosting trade and investment with the so-called 12th parish.
Toppin urged Barbadians not to overlook the diaspora as the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) launched Bajans Connect, Innovate Barbados, and a cleantech cluster incubator and accelerator titled Boom, at Bagnall’s Point Gallery, Pelican Village.
Bajan Connect is an integrated export marketing campaign that seeks to promote the sale of Barbadian goods and services to diaspora markets across the world through a partnership with We Gatherin’ and other stakeholders.
Innovate Barbados is a marketing and public awareness campaign and initiative to encourage greater innovative thinking across all sectors, schools and training institutions.
And the clean tech cluster is designed to provide businesses and start-ups with access to operating space, high quality business intelligence, coaching and financial support, business development, match-making and business incubation services.
Toppin declared that Barbados would not be able to sell $37 million in alcoholic beverages or $3 million in sweet biscuits to the United States in 2018 were it not for the diaspora’s demand for Bajan rums and treats.
He said: “It is therefore, pertinent for us to connect with and tap into the minds of our diaspora.
“It is imperative that we harness all the data we can on who they are, what they want and why they want it.
“With that information, the BIDC, under the Bajans Connect programme, along with other governmental and non-governmental strategic partners, will put the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure that Barbadians, no matter how far they roam, can buy the authentic Bajan products they do desire.
“Achieving this would result in tremendous earnings for our local manufacturers and service providers and help us as a nation to improve our standard of living and wellbeing in a more sustainable way.”
Now the BIDC’s signature annual event, and the “Caribbean’s premier innovation conference”, Innovate Barbados aims to stimulate innovative thinking and activity across the island, the Minister for International Business and Industry said.
He added: “ As the 2020 campaign officially launches today under the appropriate theme A Blue Green Caribbean, please be reminded that true innovation does not stop at just thinking of creative ways to do things, but actually creating an enabling environment to achieve innovative solutions to our problems.”
The Minister said the Bloom clean-tech project not only supports the national objective of making Barbados a green circular economy but will support Government’s effort to make the clean tech industry an important value-creating pillar government’s transformation agenda.
Toppin declared: “Clean technology is the way forward, and can only be achieved by marrying innovation with renewable energy.
“With thousands of Barbadians living overseas with the potential to invest in such companies, we can all see how the convergence of the diaspora, innovation and clean-tech can create unprecedented opportunities for Barbadian businesses, consumers, and all stakeholders whose business it is to take Barbados, its goods and services to the world.
“This is why I truly believe that this launch event is very appropriate and relevant to our economic focus right now.”