The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), partnering in the roll-out of a national agro-processing project, said it remains committed to promoting and supporting polices that will stimulate the growth of small enterprises across the region.
The upcoming project is being funded from a EUR8.75-million standby facility and is managed by the regional financial body. Through joint partnership led locally by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the initiative seeks to enhance the agro-processing sector in a major way, targeting primarily micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), providing them with the resources to exploit new opportunities in the international market.
Speaking at a forum held by the JBDC earlier this week, Lisa Harding, CDB coordinator for MSME development in the Caribbean, said that developing the agro-processing sector for export was of great significance in helping particularly small businesses to move up the value chain.
“We know of the difficulties in accessing affordable capital and other solutions among other impediments which affect the ability of the sector to go global. The question, therefore, is: how do we tackle the impediments and build resilience into this important sector. I believe the answer lies within a multi-pronged and multi-partner approach which focuses on a number of things. These include creating an enabling environment, improved communication and engagement of MSMEs and supporting the need for accessible funding,” she said.
Harding said that outside of the current project, the CDB in providing other financial and technical assistance for entrepreneurs across the region, has through a number of financing instruments including loans and grants sought to target programmes aimed at stimulating their growth.
“Our private sector policy and agricultural policy and strategy both articulate our support for not only MSMEs but they also promote the value chain approach to government. In this regard, CDB has supported several interventions across the bank’s 19 borrowing member countries,” she further said, noting some other programmes being funded locally including the Essex Valley and Southern Plain agro-parks project.
“We hope that this upcoming project will provide access to an upgraded food incubator, training in world-class agriculture and manufacturing, branding and marketing support for the JBDC’s Jamaica Harvest Brand,” she stated.
The joint project, which is to utilise a cluster approach, is also aimed at targeting economic growth and greater economic empowerment for women.
Daniel Best, director of CDB’s projects department, during the launch of the initiative last year, said that the project will “build infrastructure and capacity and increase the economic participation and opportunities of those in agriculture, especially women, while also contributing to post COVID-19 recovery”.