OAS PRESS RELEASE:-WASHINGTON, D.C., July 21, 2017 — The governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis today signed a memorandum of understanding with the Organization of Americans States (OAS) for the implementation of a project for the development of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model in their countries.
The program focuses on the transfer of the successful U.S. Small Business Development Center model which provides a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. This targeted assistance seeks to address some of the systemic issues plaguing Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the Caribbean region such as access to finance, development of a strong legislative/policy framework and effectively linking SMEs to international markets.
At the signing ceremony, OAS Executive Secretary for Integral Development Kim Osborne highlighted the value of the program and affirmed that “public policies to assist SME’s must go hand in hand with the planning and execution of programs that improve their productivity, innovation and participation in both the domestic and international markets.”
The Minister of Trade, Commerce & Industry, Sports, Culture & National Festivals of Antigua and Barbuda, Chet Greene, expressed the commitment of his country to the implementation of the initiative and the relevance of partnership for economic growth.
“We are glad to be part of this program, and we offer our full commitment and our readiness to be a responsible partner in growing and strengthening our SME’s, and we look forward to the coming weeks, months, years, and to the evaluation that will follow,” Mr. Greene said.
For his part, the Minister of International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Lindsey Grant, highlighted the impact that SMEs have for economic development.
“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding today is not simply a signature, or ticking a box to show completion of a task; but rather it is the first step in the serious business of not only improving the economies of our countries, but also engaging in the most satisfying activity of enhancing the lives of all the people whom we serve,” he affirmed.
The Minister of State for Grand Bahama, James Kwasi Malik Thompson, recalled that his country had previously joined the initiative during the meeting of Ministers of Education in The Bahamas. He further commented the need to support SME’s in the framework of competitiveness and innovation.
“In order to accelerate the country’s economic growth,” Mr. Thompson said, “steps need to be taken to further develop our environment, which focuses in competitiveness, ease of doing business and microeconomic stability.”
In its second phase, the SBDC program seeks to expand the model adaptation to new beneficiary countries within the Caribbean region The SBDC model leverages the technical, human and financial resources of the public and private sectors and academia to develop an “ecosystem” of sorts to nurture the growth of small business enterprises. The tripartite partnership guarantees the sustainability of the program and eliminates inefficiencies and duplication of efforts among agencies.