Private Sector Development Lead Specialist and Executive Director of Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility, Sylvia Dohnert, has described Dominica’s private sector as one with “great potential” but there are a few challenges that the Caribbean as a whole must overcome in order to see that potential manifest.
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.
Dohnert, in her opening remarks at Invest Dominica’s stakeholder meeting on Wednesday August 16th at the Fort Young Hotel, said that in keeping with the line of duty of Compete Caribbean, one of the main reasons why the company came to Dominica is to seek to maximize on the potential growth of the private sector through innovation.
“Three days to be here, to meet with a number of counterparts. We have this meeting with you here this morning to try to see what are the kinds of catalytic projects that Compete could form that would be real game changers for Dominica,” she said.
Dohnert outlined a few challenges that the Caribbean is currently facing that pose as hindrances to private sector growth including; weak linkages between firms; market and firms tend to be smaller; scarcity of specialized technicians and engineers, and weak market incentives to overcome obstacles which in her analysis showed the Caribbean to be “falling behind” compared to other small economies around the world.
However, she said, to combat these challenges, innovation is key to driving productivity within the private sector to a higher level of efficiency.
“We are interested in innovation because it turns out that innovation is the main driver of productivity growth. When we talk about innovation, we are not talking about invention. This is not inventing a rocket to go the moon…it is a lot of adopting new processes, making organisational changes, becoming a lot more efficient with the inputs that you produce,” she remarked.
Meanwhile, Minister for Commerce, Enterprise and Small Business Development, Roslyn Paul, stated that Dominica is journeying to ensure that competitiveness is improved while noting the critical importance of innovation towards the development of enterprise and industry.
“We are on the journey to ensure that we improve our competitiveness as small island developing states and innovation is very critical as well to the development of enterprise and industry. So we cannot overemphasize the significance of the work that we are trying to do together,” she said.
She highlighted the importance of the stakeholders meeting as the different partners can bring to the table new ideas, build alliances through networking and share and learn best practices.
She stressed that working together as a small developing state is important if Dominica is to combat its “unique” challenged.
“While we are a small developing state, our challenges are unique, but if we work together, if we continue to from the best practices of others, if we continue to network, if we continue to put systems in place to overcome our challenged together, I think we are already on the right path,” Paul stated.
She noted that through continued partnership with Compete Caribbean, she is sure that small island developing states such as Dominica can surely compete with other economies on a higher level.
Paul remarked that the government has placed “on the front burner” the development of the private sector hence their continued support of various productive sectors not only through policies and concessions, but also through access to finance.
Compete Caribbean seeks to stimulate new growth in the Caribbean by focusing on private sector development and innovation and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UKAID).