CASTRIES, St Lucia – The Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and The Caribbean Export Development Agency launched a technical assistance and coaching programme on July 8, 2020, with the aim of strengthening the entrepreneurial and leadership skills of 14 selected young entrepreneurs from six countries of the Eastern Caribbean namely, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Youth are the future. Their businesses are a critical foundation for sustainable economic growth in the region and so we must invest in them and their businesses. Caribbean Export implemented a similar coaching programme for women-owned businesses which was very successful, and so I encourage the participants to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the coaches and to build a network between one another,” said Caribbean exports’ services specialist – Allyson Francis, who underscored the importance of the private sector and youth-owned businesses, in particular, for sustainable economic growth in the Caribbean.
Ricardo James, senior technical specialist and officer in charge of the OECS Competitive Business Unit (CBU) said: “The initiative forms part of a broader set of actions being developed and pursued by the OECS Commission to foster entrepreneurship across the region including strengthening the capacity of entrepreneurs and their enterprises, the ecosystem and the legislative, policy and regulatory framework for entrepreneurship in the region.”
Funding for this technical assistance and coaching programme comes via the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) regional private sector development programme, which the Caribbean export development agency is currently implementing.
The programme pursues three main objectives, namely:
- Assisting entrepreneurs to clarify their vision and develop achievable goals that can be translated into tangible results;
- Assisting entrepreneurs to develop transformative business models and strategies that enhance productivity, competitiveness and growth; and
- Providing technical support to set entrepreneurs on a path towards export readiness.
The beneficiaries of the OECS-Caribbean export development agency’s technical assistance and coaching programme were targeted through national business service organisations and the “OECS 30 under 30” programme. Out of 21 applications, 14 companies of both the services and goods sectors have been selected to participate in the three-month coaching programme.
The group of young entrepreneurs will benefit from a highly experienced team of coaches in multiple areas such as business plan development, financial analysis, operations management, sales, marketing and branding, human resource management, proposal development, product development and quality assurance, legal and regulatory environment, ethical and sustainable business trends, information and communication technologies and e-commerce, and creative industries among others.
The coaching programme also includes the completion of a comprehensive analysis of each beneficiary companies and the development of individual strategies which will address their specific issues.
In closing, OECS and Caribbean export reaffirmed the intention to continue to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Eastern Caribbean through complementary projects which will be launched in the future.