(Pictured L to R): Kirk Brown, Grants Administrator, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA); Winston Rolle, President, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director-CEDA; Charles Pratt, Commercial Manager-GBPA; Tony Bradshaw, CEDA; and Hank Ferguson, local trade economist.
Submitted by Deidre Rahming
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Good news is on the horizon for locally based small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Representatives from The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) recently participated in the 4th Cariforum Regional Meeting of Business Support Organizations, held in Kingston, Jamaica, under the theme, ‘Sustainability for the Future’. A follow-up meeting held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, also saw GBPA participation. The second of the meetings was coordinated to assist Caribbean Private Sector Companies in ‘Doing Business with Europe’ and took as its theme, ‘How your business can benefit from the Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)’.
GBPA representatives included Charles Pratt, Commercial Manager-GBPA and trade economist, Hank Ferguson. GBPA-President, Ian Rolle, described the Port’s first-time attendance as a ‘bold initiative’ on the part of GBPA. “This seeks to ensure that we are leveraging our uniqueness as defined by the Hawksbill Creek Agreement to exploit opportunities of EPA to the benefit of our licensees, while exposing the advantages of doing business in Freeport to the regional Caribbean market,” Rolle said.
Both meetings were designed to enlarge on the range of opportunities and services available to the private sector in the English Speaking Caribbean and the Dominican Republic, collectively known as Cariforum. According to Mr. Pratt, the Jamaica meeting, sponsored by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) was able to assemble all the major donors and business support organizations in the region to first identify challenges we collectively face, including access to finance and skilled labor force, cost of energy and other factors that impede small and medium sized business development.
“Beyond the identification of the challenges, we were given the opportunity to gain insight into millions of Euros being made available for private sector development and how we might pursue some of these benefits for Grand Bahama in general and licensees of the Port Authority,” he added.
SME GRANTS – Local licensees will soon learn more about opportunities for available grants for small and medium sized enterprises thanks to GBPA’s recent participation in the 4th Cariforum Regional Meeting of Business Support Organizations, held in Kingston, Jamaica. (Pictured L to R): Charles Pratt, Commercial Manager-GBPA; Kirk Brown, Grants Administrator, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA); Winston Rolle, President, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; Robert Glass, German International Cooperation Agency; and local trade economist, Hank Ferguson.EPA assistance for The Bahamas has traditionally been in the form of support of infrastructural development (airports, roads and bridges). Now, as a result of the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme implemented by CEDA in Jamaica, Euro 165 million and supplemental funds are being made available to Cariforum members to assist in building business development programmes and to assist in taxation system reform.
Mr. Pratt further revealed that GBPA representatives were able to engage in private engagements with many foreign participants and CEDA is looking forward to visiting Freeport. “As a result of our talks, members of the Grand Bahama business community can look forward to upcoming seminars on proper procedures for grant writing applications so as to be able to access funds available for the development of SMEs.”
EU Member States traditionally have their own definition of what constitutes an SME, but now the EU has started to standardize the concept. Its current definition categorizes companies with fewer than 10 employees as "micro", those with fewer than 50 employees as "small", and those with fewer than 250 as "medium”.
Trinidad’s seminar for the Caribbean Business Community made very deliberate efforts to outline opportunities for Caribbean business expansion into Europe and potential benefits of joint venturing with EU firms. Presenters continued with a broad overview of the main provisions of the EPA agreement, concrete benefits to be derived and potential opportunities.
(Pictured L to R): Charles Pratt, Commercial Manager-GBPA; Kirk Brown, Grants Administrator, Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA); Winston Rolle, President, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation; Robert Glass, German International Cooperation Agency; and local trade economist, Hank Ferguson.
Summing up both visits as highly fruitful, President-Rolle was optimistic about future prospects for Grand Bahama. “This engagement by GBPA makes it clear that business is not being conducted as usual and every effort is being made to bring the maximum possible benefit to our stakeholders in these challenging times,” he stated.