CDB, Caribbean Export ink financing agreement for women-owned businesses

-workshop will discuss strategies for engaging banks

Executive Director of Caribbean Export Development Agency, Pamela Coke-Hamilton

Sourcing funds for business ventures could become easier for women-owned businesses in the Caribbean following the signing late last month of an agreement between the  European Union-funded regional business support organization, Caribbean Export Development Agency (Carib-bean Export) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to collaboratively pursue a new initiative titled Women Empowered through Export (WE-Xport) designed to support capacity-building for women-owned businesses to facilitate their access to finance, a release from Caribbean Export says.

The disclosure comes against the backdrop of a persistent region-wide lobby for enhanced access to finance for women-owned businesses, particularly small businesses and the Caribbean Export release says that the new initiative will be launched this month.

A key component of the initiative tagged ‘Access to Finance” will include a two-day workshop which, the Agency says, aims to increase participants’ understanding of the requirements of financial institutions and how best to meet them. Ongoing technical assistance through regional business support organizations will also be available to participating companies through the CDB-funded component, the release says. The Bank’s contribution to the initiative will also include “ongoing technical assistance” to beneficiary businesses through regional business support organizations.

The announcement that Caribbean Export will now be playing a more central role in supporting initiatives designed to further empower women in business enhances the profile of the year-old organization as one of the region’s more pro-active business support entities.

The CDB’s support for the initiative to further empower women entrepreneurs seeks to build on research it commissioned in 2016 and which identified gender region-wide disparities in access to credit.  As part of its response, the Bank is also collaborating with regional development financial institutions to develop gender policies.

Figures published in the media release indicate that between 2013 and 2017, the CDB provided lines of credit to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) totaling approximately US$18m and benefitting 974 MSMEs across the Region. As part of its response, the Bank is also collaborating with regional development financial institutions to develop gender policies.

A key component of the new initiative to be launched in March 2018 by Caribbean Export, will be “Access to Finance”, and will include a two-day workshop that aims to increase participants’ understanding of the requirements of financial institutions and how best to meet them.  Ongoing technical assistance through regional business support organizations will also be available to participating companies through the CDB-funded component.