OECS Continues Stakeholder Meetings in Saint Lucia for UBEC Matching Grants Programme


The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), in collaboration with the World Bank, is taking decisive steps to harness the vast potential of the blue economy in the Caribbean region. Recognising that the marine space of the OECS is 85 times larger than its land space, the OECS Commission has embarked on the Unleashing the Blue Economy (UBEC) Project, aimed at maximising the benefits of this abundant resource.

From March 6-9, 2024, the OECS-UBEC Project team concluded a workshop and site visits to businesses in Saint Lucia. This was the second of such visits to the three beneficiaries of the UBEC Project, namely Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These workshops and visits are part of the first phase of the UBEC Matching Grant Programme (MGP). This initiative is a vital component of the UBEC Project, which aims to support micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and communities engaged in various sectors of the blue economy, including tourism, fisheries, and waste management.

The Matching Grant Programme serves as a crucial financing mechanism, providing grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 USD for individual firms and $100,000 to $200,000 USD for value chain groups. This financial support, amounting to a total of $4.5 million USD, will be disbursed to 75 grantees across the primary beneficiary Member States.

Notably, the UBEC Project emphasizes gender inclusivity, with a mandate that 70% of grantees must be MSMEs owned, operated, and/or managed by females. This strategic approach underscores the project’s commitment to empowering women and promoting their active participation in the blue economy.

Successful applicants must meet specific criteria, including legal registration, operational experience of at least two years, and a demonstrated commitment to growth, job creation, and innovation. The UBEC Project aims to foster sustainable development while addressing environmental challenges and improving livelihoods across the region.

During a site visit to Greening the Caribbean, a Waste Management Facility in Saint Lucia, Wayne Neil, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, expressed his enthusiasm for the UBEC Project’s objectives. He stated:

“UBEC is one of those programmes that’s moving in the direction of sustainable living, so I’m looking forward to seeing some really substantial changes take place with UBEC here in Saint Lucia and throughout the entire region.”

The OECS-World Bank partnership is poised to drive transformative change in the Caribbean, leveraging the blue economy to create opportunities for economic growth, environmental stewardship, and gender equality.

The partnership between the OECS and the World Bank signifies a commitment to driving transformative change in the Caribbean. By harnessing the power of the blue economy, the project aims not only to address immediate environmental challenges but also to lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable development and improved livelihoods across the region.

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