We sat down with Caribbean Export Development Agency’s (CEDA) Services Specialist, Allyson Francis, who filled us in on the agency’s current objectives and programmes that are set to drive increased exports and investments in the region.
Caribbean Export is implementing a new 2021 to 2024 strategic plan to guide the way for the next three years as they adapt to the “new normal” in the wake of COVID-19, which has drastically shifted the trade and investment landscape.
“Our new mission is to be the leading agency that drives Caribbean economic development through private sector development,” says Allyson. “We can play a key role in transforming the region through the work we do with the private sector as the main engine of growth and innovation within the regional economy.”
According to Allyson, the number one objective is to create “jobs, jobs, and more jobs” within the region while empowering businesses to take advantage of these transformational times.
“As we talk about new economic theories, it’s not just about making a profit but transforming how business is done. That is our vision. And our mission is to provide innovative and targeted initiatives designed to enhance business growth, sustainability, and growth interactions. We are seeking out new ideas and better ways to service our clients and helping them to transform how they operate.”
She highlighted transparency as essential to the work that Caribbean Export does, stating that the agency is fully committed to openness and visibility in everything that it does, as well as the results that it is getting.
Rounding out the list of organizational values was the need to be client-focused, which has informed the agency’s latest activities.
Before any programmes are launched, Caribbean Export encourages all businesses to make use of its diagnostic tool, worked on jointly with other Business Supporting Organizations (BSOs), that diagnoses where the strong and weak points are in a company. Businesses can then build on strengths and address weaknesses while enrolling in one of the agency’s flagship programs to address the main shortcomings identified.
“For example, we have engaged in flagship programs to look at export promotion and development in the region as well as ways of increasing investment. This includes activities such as recent trainings targeting the manufacturing and goods sectors in terms of financing, business development, intellectual property rights and so forth. It is very targeted. Governments and businesses can choose which modules they complete based on what they feel is needed. We are very much locked in with our clients’ needs and objectives.”
Another area of critical importance that Caribbean Export has worked on with BSOs is market intelligence – helping companies to identify what the market wants.
“We always say you don’t necessarily have to produce what you like but what there is demand for. You do that by understanding the market. This is one of our pillar programs that many businesses seek out. We have a market intelligence portal and have trained BSOs to reach out to the key sectors and clients to help them to utilize the tool so they can better develop their products and better understand the markets they are introducing the products to.”
Through the market intelligence portal, businesses can also access the EU Help Desk to gain insight into requirements for access to the EU market for a particular product and search for trademarks using International Trade Center (ITC) information.
Caribbean Export is also linked to ITC’s Export Potential Desk, which indicates a product’s potential for exports in specific markets. For example, a business that is exporting to another country can find out how close it is to maximizing its export potential to that country and if it still has room for growth. This kind of information equips businesses to make informed decisions and expand their market space.
It is through these core values and its extensive network of resources, that Caribbean Export is able to empower all businesses within the region whether they are selling goods or providing services. They are aggressively launching a number of courses and programmes designed to provide local entrepreneurs with the most innovative ways to export their products and services throughout the region and the world. Their current focus includes services, creative industries, agri-processing and agri-tech, outsourcing, the hotel sector, and ICT, among others.
For more information about CEDA, you can visit the official CEDA website at https://www.carib-export.com/