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Frankfurt am Main, 17.05.2024 12:00:00

Over 400 Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) across the Eastern Caribbean have been supported to take their business operations to the next level, thanks to UNDP’s and Frankfurt School’s FUT-Tourism project.

In 2021, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean partnered with the Caribbean Development Bank, the University of West Indies Global Campus and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, to deliver the FUT-Tourism Project aimed at assisting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector to recover from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic activity.

As the FUT-Tourism project wraps up in 2024, over 400 MSMEs across 10 Eastern Caribbean countries and territories served by UNDP’s Multi-Country Office were trained, and 189 MSMEs, of which 77% are women-owned, received USD$ 800,000 in financial support resulting in over 300 business processes digitalised. The programme was delivered through online training, one-to-one technical assistance, and mentorship.

Katherine Daniel of Southpaw Grafix Inc. (Barbados), who completed the programme, said: “The training provided is excellent, and my mentor has enabled me to plan and implement new projects. The ideation behind creating various client persona and working out their pain points and how to solve their problems is extremely helpful. I really appreciate the support and the information provided!”

UNDP Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Resident Representative, Limya Eltayeb, highlighted the importance of regional partnerships to implement relevant interventions: “The Future Tourism Project has been an example of the power of collaboration and innovation. By bringing together partners from the public and private sectors, we have supported the transition of micro and small businesses to medium enterprises and have supported them in digitalising their product and communications. We continue to champion expanding local markets, resilient local businesses, regional collaboration, and the power and potential of digital transformation as being key for the competitiveness, resilience, and ultimate prosperity of MSMEs across the Eastern Caribbean.” 

Ms Fatma Dirkes, Director International Advisory Services and Vice President at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, commended the practical solutions the programme has offered MSMEs, noting: “By focusing on practical, technology-driven solutions, together we aim to unlock the potential of every entrepreneur, catalysing a wave of sustainable development that resonates across the Eastern Caribbean. This is more than a partnership; it’s a commitment to build a sustainable future.”

Dr Francis Severin, Principal of the UWI Global Campus, emphasised the institution’s commitment to driving regional development through strong partnerships. “The UWI Global Campus is pleased to partner with the UNDP and Frankfurt School, supporting regional MSMEs in alignment with our mission for Caribbean development, through people’s development, irrespective of their social backgrounds, eagerly seeking new ventures in this pursuit. Lifelong learning offers hope, fostering economic stability amidst rapid digital change in the Region. Collaboration drives a significant digital transformation in the Eastern Caribbean, where innovation shapes our path forward. Together, we empower regional MSMEs with technology, driving progress and growth.” 

UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean held a Closing Ceremony for MSMEs that completed the FUT-Tourism Business Adaptation Programme on April 25. Many of the MSMEs showed great resilience to complete the programme with acknowledgment coming from speakers Dr Emily Dick-Forde, Deputy Principal UWI Global Campus; Stephanie Zeibell, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; and Fatma Dirkes, Director International Advisory Services, Frankfurt School.

As external threats like COVID-19 and natural disasters continue to impact the region, developmental efforts must reinforce the need for regional resilience and building forward better. Leveraging partnerships is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision.