Two officials of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis recently held a meeting, in Basseterre, with representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that was aimed at introducing the programme, Compete Caribbean, which is operating under the theme ‘Helping Caribbean Companies Innovate’.
“The meeting was held with representatives from the IDB, as they are looking to promote the Compete Caribbean, which is a joint venture, looking to promote and push support for private sector development within the Caribbean region,” said Mr Shavon Douglas, head of the Development Bank’s Business Support Unit.
Attending the meeting with him was Development Bank’s General Manager, Mr Lenworth Harris, who has given his full support to the proposal by the IDB as he is of the opinion that the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis has a number of entrepreneurs whose upward mobility is restricted by their lack of resources when it comes to putting their ideas into practice.
Compete Caribbean is a private sector development programme that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region.
According to Mr Douglas, the programme has a three-pronged approach, namely Knowledge Management, Business Climate Reform, and Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund.
Targets for the first component, Knowledge Management, include governments, religious institutions, development agencies, research institutions and academia. Its objectives are “to increase regional and national consensus on strategic and priority interventions to promote private sector development.”
The second component, Business Climate Reform, targets governments, regional institutions, chambers of commerce, research institutions and other private sector organisation, and it aims at identifying and solving problems related to private sector development and growth.
The final component, Enterprise Innovation Challenge Fund (EICF), is one that will target private sector firms. According to Mr Douglas, its objectives are “to provide grant funding to firms registered in the Caribbean to implement innovative private projects.”
Under this component (EICF), matching grants of between US$100,000 to US$500,000 will be made available to innovative private firm projects that have a qualifying innovative idea.
The EICF epitomises the intensity of Compete Caribbean’s support for development of the region, according to information released by Compete Caribbean. It is a competitive mechanism to provide financial support (through non-reimbursable grants) to the Caribbean (CARIFORUM) private sector to pursue innovative projects in the region.
“Our role in this initiative would be basically seeking to partner with the IDB,” commented Mr Douglas. “Our role is primarily to be the point institution here in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“We would be responsible for doing all the related public relations and sensitisation to our business sector and also to act, to some extent, as the facilitators and the processing point where applications would be coming through for onward forwarding to the IDB group.”
Compete Caribbean, which is jointly funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries.
The programme’s estimated value is US$40.0 million, of which DFID and CIDA contributed US$32.55 million. Projects in St. Kitts and Nevis, and other OECS countries, are implemented in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).