Compete Caribbean and the Centre for Enterprise Development host National Workshop on Cluster Development

KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES – Members of the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility were in St. Vincent in February to kick-start a cluster capacity-building project with the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED). A full day was spent with CED’s board and staff on February 14 to assess the organization’s capacity to generate employment and exports through clusters.

The assessment carried-out will be fundamental to develop a capacity enhancement plan for CED. It will also be key to pursue technical assistance to implement the plan and further the organization’s capacity to coordinate local cluster development. The national workshop took place at the Methodist Church Hall on February 15 with over 60 key stakeholders participating in the event and discussed the promotion of clusters and other opportunities for inclusive growth in St. Vincent.

“Clusters are defined as three or more private sector firms collaborating to produce and sell new or better products/services at competitive costs on the regional or international market. Cluster projects have great potential to generate revenue, increase foreign exchange, and create employment, including jobs for women and marginalized groups”, highlighted Lisa Drakes, Compete Caribbean’s Pillar One Project Development Officer.

“Phase one of the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility was successful in creating nearly 12,000 jobs, increasing the revenue of participating firms by 41% and increasing their exports on average by 23%, this prompted the donors to approve a second phase. In addition to continuing their work with governments and private sector, in this second phase Compete Caribbean will be focused on transferring knowledge to business support organizations (BSOs) of the region.” Drakes added.

Felix Lewis, CED's General Manager, in his remarks, said clustering is a solution to the challenges faced in small open economies, such as St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

"As we search for solutions to the stagnant economic growth of the region, the relatively high unemployment and high incidence of poverty, it is emerging that industry clustering is offering some exciting results that are raising hopes that this approach can contribute significantly rekindling of economic growth prospects in the region."

Meanwhile, in declaring the national workshop opened, Featured Speaker and Director of Planning in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, Mrs. Laura Anthony-Browne, said the clustering initiative by Compete Caribbean through CED fits into SVG's National and Social Economic Development Plan 2013-2025. She also lauded the efforts of Compete Caribbean in bringing programmes that compliment government’s plans, noting that among the workshop’s objectives was to exploit the potential for cluster capacity as a toolkit for economic development.

"Cluster analyses help to diagnose a region’s or a country’s economic strengths and challenges. Analyses of clusters also help to identify realistic ways to shape a country’s economic future,” she stated. “Clusters have been promoted for some time now. The promotion has intensified over the last 20 or so years as a means of promoting growth and development, and so policy administrators like myself, we are particularly interested in the information we can get when the economy is analyzed, when businesses are analyses in clusters.”

The Compete Caribbean mission was preceded by a two-day regional workshop for Capacity Building of Business Support Organizations in Barbados on January 17 – 18, 2018. This regional workshop formally marked the start of the Compete Caribbean’s Cluster Capacity Building in Small and Vulnerable Countries project, which aims to increase the capacity of business support organizations while facilitating cluster development initiatives.

 

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