A multi-donor private sector development program financed by

Compete Caribbean Celebration & Stocktaking Event (Day One)


Media Release

November 21, 2016

Compete Caribbean celebrates end of Phase 1

Compete Caribbean today hosted a ceremony at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre for public and private stakeholders to celebrate its achievements and report on lessons learned from phase one of the program. This private sector development initiative provided technical assistance, grants and investment funding to support policies to facilitate ease of doing business, collaboration between companies and sectors, and to support Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean. A phase two is expected to be launched early next year.

Compete Caribbean supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries and is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Government of Canada, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). It is executed in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). In a region that receives high per-capita assistance, it is the first time that some of the Caribbean’s major donors such as Canada and the United Kingdom have come together with the IDB and the Caribbean Development Bank to jointly fund a multi-donor platform of this magnitude for the Caribbean focused on private sector development.

The program was designed in 2009 when most of the Caribbean countries were in the throes of the global crisis. Tourist arrival rates had significantly declined, commodity prices, had declined, and the average growth of the region was -1.9%. It was clear that the region would not be able to rebound unless it improved its competitiveness.

Over the last six years, Compete Caribbean has focused on three key areas, the production of knowledge, an improved business climate, and increased innovation and collaboration in the private sector, to attain its overall objective of increased competitiveness. Sylvia Dohnert, Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, shared that the program had executed 98 projects which stimulated more than 6500 new jobs and created new industries in some countries in the region.

“The Caribbean still has a way to go in terms of being fully equipped to compete effectively with the rest of the world. However, we are pleased with the strides we have made strengthening institutions in charge of fostering private sector growth and development like JAMPRO, Beltraide and InvestDominica to name a few. We have also supported the formulation of regulatory and policy reforms to improve the business climate. The Program also impacted over 500 companies through 14 innovative firm and cluster projects throughout 10 CARFORUM countries in a number of industries including agriculture, aquaculture, tourism, energy, information and communications’ technologies, animation, logistics and the provision of basic services for vulnerable groups.

Regarding knowledge, Compete Caribbean generated previously unavailable data and research for informed decision-making. We produced 17 sector strategies, 16 private sector assessment reports, and surveyed over 4000 firms in 13 countries to understand the main constraints to private sector development. We also produced an additional 54 knowledge products on key issues for the region, such as energy, diaspora, business climate reform and ICT applied to particular industries,” Dohnert said.

The first phase of Compete Caribbean was lauded as a success which has started the Caribbean on a path to improved competitiveness. Five beneficiaries from different countries representing the public and private sectors, as well as academia, spoke of their experience with the program, and all credited it as being a catalyst to the region. Given the program’s achievements, IDB General Manager for the Caribbean, Therese Turner-Jones announced that the Bank had approved a new phase of the Program. She said that DFID and the CDB had also approved support for this new phase, and they hope that Canada will join them.

Phase 2 of Compete Caribbean is expected to build on the results and lessons learned from Phase 1 to deliver a program that is even more attuned to the needs of the region.

Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Canada, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. Projects in the OECS countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.