BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (Caribbean 360)– Eight finalists representing cluster projects from across the region are vying for funding from Compete Caribbean.
An Investment Panel at the Inter-American Development Bank Barbados Country Office recently heard pitches from one finalist from Grenada (Hidden Treasures – North East Cluster), two finalists from Suriname (Promotion and Enhancement of the North Commewijne Tourism Destination and Suriname High Value Natural Products Cluster), two from Belize (Belize Shrimp Biosecurity Aquaculture Zone and Enhancing Six Small Tourism Enterprises in Toledo) and three from Jamaica (Digitization of Jamaica’s Outsourcing Industry, Pepper Supply Chain and JBU Grow Castor Bean Project) whose projects span the tourism, agro-processing and service sectors.
To make recommendations on which projects should receive funding, the independent panel of judges evaluated the cluster projects’ potential impact on employment creation, including for women and marginalized groups, and on the generation of revenue and foreign exchange.
Compete Caribbean will grant the selected cluster project(s) 80 per cent of the total budget for the proposed project, to a maximum of US$400,000. The winning cluster(s) must, in turn, contribute a minimum of 20 per cent of the total project cost, half of which can be provided in-kind. Professional consultants will also be available to support the project development process.
Compete Caribbean’s call for cluster project proposals, which closed in November 2017, received 91 applications from 13 Caribbean countries. Forty-one per cent of the proposals were from the agriculture, agro-processing and aquaculture sector; 17 per cent were related to the creative/cultural industry; 17 per cent were related to the tourism sector; and 16 per cent to the service sector.
The Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) is a private sector development program funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Sylvia Dohnert, said Phase One of the CCPF was successful in creating nearly 12,000 jobs, increasing the revenue of participating firms by 41 per cent and increasing their exports on average by 23 per cent.
Indicating that this prompted the donors to approve a Phase Two, Dohnert noted that 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.
Accordingly, the Investment Panel was preceded by a two-day regional workshop for Capacity Building of Business Support Organizations, which was attended by 10 BSOs.
That workshop formally marked the start of Compete Caribbean’s Cluster Capacity Building in Small and Vulnerable Countries project, which Dohnert explained “is a project to increase the capacity of these business support organizations to identify very good cluster projects, to develop the strategies for them and to help implement them.”
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