The official launch of a Community Business Revitalization Project promises to equip local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the competitive edge they need to become not only more profitable, but also resilient.
Under the project themed “Capacity Building Project for Community Business Revitalization in Saint Lucia”, MSMEs in four communities will benefit in specific areas aimed at strengthening their capacity, including product design, marketing, and branding and promotion. The project will target MSMEs in Dennery, Soufriere, Laborie, and Castries (with a concentration on Babonneau).
At the opening ceremony held on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, at the Public Service Training Institute at Union, Castries, His Excellency Peter Chia-Yen Chen, Taiwan’s Ambassador to Saint Lucia, said MSMEs serve as the backbone of Taiwan’s economic development.
As of 2021, he noted, Taiwan boasted more than 1.59 million MSMEs, which account for more than 98% of all enterprises. He believes Saint Lucian MSMEs have what it takes to become successful.
“We hope to share our experiences and build a more resilient business environment for Saint Lucian MSMEs,” Ambassador Chen said. “During my three years living in Saint Lucia, I have visited many communities around the island. The strong sense of Saint Lucian communities, the cohesiveness of the people, and the vibrant local culture deeply impressed me. I believe Saint Lucia has the best conditions to create an optimal environment for MSMEs that can contribute greatly to the national economy.”
Ambassador Chen added: “In the coming four years, we will collaborate to boost our local businesses and the heart of our communities by increasing 90 beneficial community MSMEs’ income by 10%. This project is not just about economic growth; it’s about creating a thriving, welcoming environment that benefits us all.”
Hon. Emma Hippolyte, Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, said the project will pivot local MSMEs into a more competitive realm, one where they feel more confident and marketable.
“I am extremely optimistic as we embark on this groundbreaking initiative to breathe new life into our community businesses through intense marketing and coaching sessions,” Hon. Hippolyte said. “Taking them from the traditionally unrecognized languishing roadside vending to full-fledged automated enterprises with easily recognizable stock brand. My optimism is driven chiefly by the level of interest, enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by owners of MSMEs who participate wholeheartedly in the strategic programme instituted by the Government of Saint Lucia, expressly for their benefit.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Guillaume Simon, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, said the assistance being offered by the Government of Taiwan to build capacity among local MSMEs dovetails with the Government of Saint Lucia’s policy position to invest in that sector.
“In a dynamic world, the project aims to modernize the operations of MSMEs in Saint Lucia,” he said. “It transcends boundaries of simple disbursements, and instead targets building institutional capacity. It is multi-faceted, and it aims to alleviate the financial plight of small businesses in Saint Lucia engendered by overlapping crises while simultaneously ensuring that businesses are provided with the technical assistance needed to become profitable and resilient in the future.”
This year, the Governments of Taiwan and Saint Lucia have worked together to launch three projects: the Community Business Revitalization Project, the Application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Digital Capacity Building Project, and the Capacity Building Project for the Prevention and Control of Metabolic Chronic Diseases in Saint Lucia. While the objectives of these three projects are different, the goal is the same, which is to enhance the quality of life and well-being of Saint Lucians.
SOURCE: Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in Saint Lucia