THE Governments of Saint Lucia and Taiwan have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a pilot project aimed at promoting growth and enhancing the capacity of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in four Saint Lucian communities.
On Tuesday, June 13, 2023, His Excellency Peter Chia-yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, joined Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, in signing the MoU that will benefit MSMEs in Dennery, Soufriere, Laborie, and Castries (with a concentration on Babonneau).
Under the project themed “Capacity Building Project for Community Business Revitalization in Saint Lucia”, MSMEs in the four communities will benefit in specific areas aimed at strengthening their capacity, including product design, marketing, and branding and promotion. To that end, efforts are being made to establish a community business coaching system to assist MSMEs with marketing strategies that allow for sustained economic growth, thereby increasing their viability.
The project is being implemented by the Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) and the Ministry of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs. An estimated US$1,085,347.00 will fund the project, with TaiwanICDF contributing US$835,347.00, while the Government of Saint Lucia will contribute, in kind, the human resources, facilities and tools necessary, equivalent to US$250,000.00.
In his remarks, Ambassasdor Chen said empowering people so that they can have a direct stake in the growth and benefits of their community lies at the heart of the project.
“The Community Business Revitalization Project lays the foundation for a comprehensive strategy that encompasses various aspects of community business revitalization, including transforming MSMEs, empowering local businesses, and uplifting the lives of these residents,” he said. “By nurturing local businesses, we can stimulate job creation, empower individuals, and foster a sense of pride and ownership within the community.”
Ambassador Chen added: “As we embark on this journey of revitalization, it is crucial to acknowledge the vision and tireless efforts of all those who have been in instrumental in making this initiative into implementation, including colleagues from the Ministry of Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, and Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade, Civil Aviation and Diaspora Affairs, as well as from Taiwan Technical Mission, who have contributed their time and expertise to this agreement. Together, they have exemplified the spirit of unity and determination necessary for sustainable development.”
While thanking the Government of Taiwan for being a great and generous friend to Saint Lucia throughout the years, Hon. Hippolyte said the MoU will have a profound and positive impact on MSMEs, many of which were affected by the pandemic.
“Our MSMEs face many challenges which were magnified during the COVID-19 era,” she stated. “These challenges include limited access to finance, high unit cost of production, marketing and product development constraints, to name a few. Our MSMEs are the economic growth engines in Saint Lucia. As a result, my Government shall continue to promote the revitalization of MSMEs through various policies and initiatives like this one that we are embarking on today.”
Like Ambassador Chen, Hon. Hippolyte believes that empowering MSMEs offers people the opportunity to be crucial stakeholders in both their personal and national development.
“This project will create a more entrepreneurial environment that will promote the growth of MSMEs and strengthen the quality of our human capital,” said Hon. Hippolyte. “The project is also in line with the eighth goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which is ‘Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.’”