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Participants at the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum engage in conversation. (Photo: Caribbean Export Development Agency)

ITC, Caribbean Export launch trade hub for MSMEs

Participants at the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum engage in conversation. (Photo: Caribbean Export Development Agency)

 The International Trade Centre (ITC) has collaborated with the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) to launch the Caribbean Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Hub, the latest in its network to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) develop green and viable business models.

The Caribbean hub will be hosted by Caribbean Export, the regional trade and investment promotion agency mandated to enhance the competitiveness of MSMEs in CARIFORUM countries.

“For MSMEs to enhance their competitiveness requires a concerted effort to protect against the vulnerability to disaster events; improved efficiency of the limited resources available; and the identification of ways to rapidly expand production capacity”

— Deodat Maharaj, executive director, Caribbean Export

Caribbean Export joins a global network of T4SD Hubs which have been established with local institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Peru and Vietnam to strengthen MSMEs’ competitiveness. It said implementing green business practices helps MSMEs become climate-resilient, lower their carbon emissions, recycle waste, get certified with sustainability standards, and access green finance and value chains.

Last week, at the launch of the hub, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: “With the launch of the Caribbean T4SD Hub and the soon to be held UNCTAD [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] 15, the region is positioning itself at the centre of the current trade debate, which largely centres around how trade can contribute to an inclusive green recovery and transition.

Executive Director of the International Trade Centre Pamela Coke-Hamilton (File photo)

“Trade can be a powerful tool to ensure a resilient and net zero emissions future, which leaves no one behind when we ensure that it is used in the right way. Any stakeholder along an international value chain — whether a consumer, local producer or international brand — can play its role to transform our trading system by demanding sustainable products, by adhering to sustainability standards, and by implementing sustainable business practices,” she added.

By hosting the Caribbean T4SD Hub, Caribbean Export will develop the expertise and skills to offer sustainability-related services for MSMEs to build the business case to go green.

In his opening remarks, Caribbean Export Executive Director Deodat Maharaj stressed the partnership was “timely and necessary”.

Deodat Maharaj, executive director, Caribbean Export Development Agency (Photo: Caribbean Export)

Further, he said, “For MSMEs to enhance their competitiveness requires a concerted effort to protect against the vulnerability to disaster events; improved efficiency of the limited resources available; and the identification of ways to rapidly expand production capacity. Moreover, our MSMEs must be positioned to maximize the use of existing market access arrangements, by overcoming technical trade barriers.”

Over the next two years, the Caribbean T4SD Hub will address topics such as climate resilience, resource efficiency, circularity, sustainability standards, green finance access, and international value chains. These are key challenges for Caribbean MSMEs to become and remain competitive.

The hub will deploy a unique programme comprising blended learning activities, including e-learning, webinars and customized face-to-face coaching sessions. The learning activities will incorporate ITC’s existing tools and services and guide MSMEs on ways to integrate sustainable practices into their core business models.

(Photo: Pinterest)

Caribbean Export was selected to host the Caribbean T4SD Hub following a competitive process. The institution will work closely with ITC staff and sustainability experts to implement various workstreams of the technical assistance.

MSMEs that will be part of the hub’s coaching programme in the first two years of hub operations will be part of the programme’s pilot phase, which ITC will primarily lead.

Caribbean Export said that following this, it foresees it will have the necessary capacities to continue the hub’s programme and mentor Caribbean MSMEs in establishing sustainability-driven export businesses.