Financial Inclusion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union
– a project financed by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
The German Savings Banks Foundation for international Cooperation (SBFIC) Bonn, is implementing an East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) endorsed project to support the strengthening of the financial sector and improvement of access to financial services in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME).
The main focus of the project include inter alia:
- Widening of lending services supply to private SME by local financial institutions through strengthening the sustainability, know-how and the product range.
- Strengthening of business literacy, the financial education for individuals, and entrepreneurs of private SME.
SBFIC’s objectives are to:
- Improve SME’s access to financial services by strengthening the sustainability, know-how and the product range of selected financial institutions.
- Increase the financial literacy of SME by providing business training and business coaching.
- Increase synergies among indigenous banks by establishing a joint service provider for the financial sector as a potential cooperation model.
The project started some months ago and will be rolled out by financial markets development specialist, Dr. Jürgen Engel, who will act as on-site long-term expert on behalf of the Savings Banks Foundation. Additional technical support shall be provided by an assistant recruited locally and by international experts, who will be assigned on short-term basis.
Based on 200 years of Savings Banks experience, its origin and social mandate the foundation is involved in development work. Since its start in 1992 the German Savings Banks Foundation has managed over 200 projects in 80 countries. Presently a staff of 208 colleagues is working on 34 development projects in 37 countries. This year’s project volume totals 14.4 million Euro. Like in most projects the foundation works closely together with colleagues and practitioners from partner Savings Banks.
Sparkasse zu Lübeck could be attracted to become partner Savings Bank in this important project in the East Caribbean. Colleagues from Lübeck will share their practical banking experience, especially in SME lending, which is the focus of the German Savings Banks business model.
Mid October Dr. Engel and his colleague from Sparkasse zu Lübeck, Mr. Thomas Timm ( Head of Corporate Credit), were invited by the ECCB to perform a video conference and workshop within the framework of ECCB’s annual Financial Information Month, October 2016. Both spoke on the subject “How to better assess the viability of new business ventures”. Together with more than 70 participants from all the islands, partly present in ECCB’s training facilities in St.Kitts, partly connected by video, a number of case studies were discussed. The subject of SME finance, especially finance for young entrepreneurs, is at the heart of the ECCB. While it is one of the keys for economic development, it carries risk and local banks are quite reluctant to lend the financial support the economy is needed.
After this kick-off event SBFIC and its colleagues from Lübeck are planning further steps in their joint commitment. Mid of December they will facilitate a study tour to Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen as a means to share information and experience. Visits to a number of local Sparkassen, the Savings Bank Academy and last not least meetings with some of their SME clients are planned. Sure, there will also be a visit to the Lübecker Weihnachtsmarkt and a tasting at Lübeck’s famous Marzipan factory, Niederegger, on the program.
The project is designed as a long-term project, with an initial orientation phase of 2 years. Initially the project will start in St. Lucia, which represents the largest overall population as well as largest SME sector in the region. The initial project phase will have a pilot function and will show its positive and exemplary effects for the entire region. To this end, it is anticipated the project will be replicated in other targeted OECS territories. The St Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and the Bank of St. Lucia will be the first local project partners for the coming months.
Climate Change Projects
Climate change is one of the pressing issues of this century. Here you can find initiatives by the Federal Government pertaining to climate change in the region.
Find our more about our Climate Change Projects here:
Engaging the youth is a great way of educating the public on issues of national interest!
Climate Talk is addressing the youth of Trinidad and Tobago to raise awareness for climate change. This initiative, recently emanating from a cooperation between IAMovement and the Canadian High Commission, will continue with the support of the German Embassy.
In screening the educational short movie “Small Change”, engaging pupils from 25 schools and work with the pupils in a Questions & Answer session, the aim is to show how climate change is already affecting the lives of everyone on this twin island. And on how a small change can make a difference!
The outreach programme of the Wildfowl Trust in Pointe-a-Pierre has for many years influenced the knowledge and the perception of the youth towards climate change. The German Embassy is proud to be able to support the work of the Trust again this year. Especially as the eco sensitive area of the communities surrounding the Nariva reserve will be part of their outreach programme this year.
The Embassy and the Trust have been long standing partners since 2011 in raising the awareness about climate Change.
Having engaged 20 schools in Trinidad, 4 schools in Tobago and having hosted 3 in-house groups at their location in Pointe-a-Pierre in 2016 the Wildfowl Trust closed its outreach programme with an art competition. Pupils from all over the country participated with touching entries. Have a look at all designs and the winners! Link to the video on Youtube
The German Embassy is proud to be able to support the work of the Wildfowl Trust in Pointe-a-Pierre again with a grant towards their outreach programme “Combating Climate Change - What you can do”. Educational programmes, art competitions and workshops will reach out to the youth in Trinidad and Tobago to engage them in discussions and show them that a “green lifestyle” helps fighting climate change. The Embassy and the Trust have been long standing partners since 2011 in raising the awareness about climate change
Trinidadian scientist Dr. Judith F. Gobin, Lecturer at the Deparment of Life science at the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine campus), was aboard the exploration vessel “Nautilus” in 2013 and 2014 to study the deep waters in the Caribbean region. Her research unveiled a fascinating variaty of live and a unique ecosystem unknown to man: at a depth of 2,500 ft. plus!
NIHERST, the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, teamed up with the Embassy and other sponsors to make the results of Ms. Gobins research accessible to the public. In February 2017 they announced the launch of an educational outreach, producing educational videos and books depicting some of the fascinating finds of Ms. Gobins trip into the deep.
Small scale Projects
The Embassy supports a scheme of small scale projects, thus contributing to local and regional development in the countries. As one of the conditions for the provision of this support, small scale projects must be beneficial to the population in the project area and be carried out by local contributors. The scheme's main objective is to improve the social and economic situation of underprivileged population groups who require small amounts of financial aid in initiating “self-help” projects.
Kindly note that this specific funding is only available for projects in Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, Suriname and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Helping People help themselves
The HOPE Boat Building and Fishing Enterprise in Dominica is a cooperative of some 8 local fisherfolk in Layou / Dominica. They've recently approached the Honorary Consul in Dominica in their quest to procide a sustainable service to their community AND a reliable income to their family.
We are very happy to be able to support their initiative with the purchase of processing tools for the fish as well as packaging and storage infrastructure.
Small scale Projects of the Embassy
The Embassy was able to support various projects in Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada in 2016. Initiatives include the Fr. Hilarion Cheshire Home, the Grenada Association of Retired persons (GARP), both projects in Grenada, and the St. John Hospice in Antigua.
The works at the St. John Hospice in Antigua aimed at improving the living conditions of its eldery residents. It comprised of building a shed for the generator and improving the overall conditions in the kitchen with an upgraded fridge, washing machine and improved waste disposal facilities.
At the Fr. Hilarion Cheshire Home for elderly residents in Grenada the roof of the building needed to be repaired. It was badly damaged during hurricane Ivan in 2004. Short term fixed did not solve the problems of leakages, therefore a long term fix became necessary.
At the facilities of the Grenada Association of Retired persons (GARP) workshops were held for elders and adolescent. GARPs initiative aimes at providing these persons with work skills in order for them to improve their income. In this case several workshops on sewing and other crafts were held.
Bilateral Projects of the Embassy am the German government in Economic Cooperation:
Grenada, as a small island state, is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Many of the natural resources in Grenada are threatened by its impacts.
Since 2013 the ICCAS Programme aims to increase resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems to climate change risks in Grenada through integrated adaptation approaches.
Implemented by the Environment Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the programme is funded by the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) under its International Climate Initiative (IKI).
If you want to learn more about the ICCAS project, check out the ICCAS Facebook page or visit their Website.
Part of its installations to harvest rain waters has been handed over to local residents recently. Now Grenada has reported online about this.
In an effort to protect consumers from wasting electricity and money through the use of inefficient appliances, the Eastern Caribbean Energy Labelling Project (ECELP) is broadcasting several clips in TV and radio stations in the Eastern Caribbean under the slogan “Energy Sense = Dollar Savings”
The campaign targets appliance retailers as well as their customers. It heightens their awareness and knowledge of energy efficiency of electrical household appliances and lights as well as the labels that provide information about an appliance’s electricity consumption. Part of the activities is also an energy efficiency and quality testing programme, carried out by the Bureaux of Standards, and training for appliance retailers’ sales assistants so they can offer better advice to customers. The aim is to enable consumers to make informed purchase decisions, demand efficient products and ask for tips about the efficient use of the devices. That way, households can save significant amounts of energy and money.
Due to technological improvements many appliances manufactured recently consume significantly less energy compared to those produced some years ago. The potential energy savings with best available technologies compared to low-efficient products are as high as 70% to 80% for devices, such as A/Cs, TVs and lighting equipment. ECELP has calculated the potential savings for the St. Lucian economy if all existing refrigerators would be replaced by new, high-efficient models. The potential savings in the domestic electricity consumption are in the range of 10% to 17% annually. It would also mean reduced fuel imports, lower CO2 emissions and the possibility for the electric utility to defer investments in electricity generation capacity.
With the extraordinarily high electricity prices, the Eastern Caribbean is predestined for investments in energy efficiency. Electricity costs account for a significant percentage of households’ expenditures. Reducing electricity bills is important for households and for businesses to reduce their operation costs and become more competitive.
ECELP is a project of the OECS Secretariat with financing from the European Union and the German Government. It aims to remove barriers for the widespread use of energy-efficient household appliances and introduce energy efficiency standards and labelling schemes for selected electrical appliances. To this end, ECELP works with several partners in the Eastern Caribbean: ECELP supports the national Bureaux of Standards to develop energy efficiency standards and labels for household appliances, to set up a testing programme for the energy efficiency of refrigerating devices and the quality of energy saving bulbs, and to offer training about energy efficiency labels for retailers of electrical appliances. ECELP works with the national Energy Departments to incorporate energy efficiency aspects in the policy, legislative and regulatory framework and suggests establishing fiscal incentives, such as VAT exemptions and reduced import duties for energy saving bulbs and energy-efficient appliances. ECELP also implements actions to raise the awareness of energy labels, energy-efficient appliances and lights among the populace of the Eastern Caribbean islands.