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Programme Launched To Optimize Finance For Under-Served Groups in Saint Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda

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Women and youth-owned, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and other under-served groups in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia are poised to benefit from a US$1.4 million UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund Joint Programme that will prioritize innovative financing solutions for under-served groups.

Hononrable Prime Ministers Philip Pierre of Saint Lucia and Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda on May 10th, 2024 joined UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, along with key Government and UN officials and representatives of the SDG Joint Fund, for the on-line launch of the joint programme: “Optimizing Innovative Finance for Underserved Groups to Build Resilience and Accelerate the Achievement of the SDGs in Antigua & Barbuda and Saint Lucia.”

The new Joint Programme, which will be implemented by respective Finance and Corporate Governance Ministries in Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Lucia, seeks to promote greater financial inclusion for the most under-served groups in the two beneficiary countries, through strengthening their legal and regulatory capability, including securing digital financial services.  It will utilize a three-pronged approach to increase access to and the effectiveness of commercial innovative finance solutions and to close financing gaps to achieve the SDGs.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development, Youth Economy, Justice, and National Security of Saint Lucia, Hon. Phillip Pierre, in addressing the gathering, noted that the Joint Programme aligned with several critical priorities of the Saint Lucia Government.

He added: “We are truly grateful and remain hopeful that this joint programme will be even more transformational and impactful, touching the lives of our most vulnerable and marginalized.”

In delivering remarks, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Corporate Governance and Public Private Partnership of Antigua amd Barbuda, the Hon. Gaston Browne gave assurances of his government’s commitment towards building resilience in fulfillment of the SDGs.

“I am immensely pleased with the launch of this Joint Programme to optimize finance for Underserved Groups to Build Resilience and Accelerate the Achievement of the SDGs in Antigua & Barbuda and Saint Lucia,” he said.

Also addressing the launch prior to the Official Signing of the Project Document was UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, who said that the Joint Progranme would contribute to efforts to build resilience and accelerate the SDGs in the two Caribbean countries, by addressing the current financial architecture and barriers to finance in the region which are particularly acute for youth, women and MSMEs.

“While we recognize that financing gaps are often driven by significant cultural, historical, and social factors, we believe that addressing institutional gaps is also crucial,” he emphasized, noting that a key output of the Joint Programme would be the establishment of an Innovative Finance Incubator, with tailored support to strengthen countries’ regulatory and legal capacity towards development of digital financial services.

Following the Resident Coordinator’s remarks, Prime Ministers Browne and Pierre officially signed the Project instrument. The signing was followed by a video address by Lisa Kurbiel, Head of the Joint SDG Fund Secretariat, who noted that to date, the Fund had approved USD $258 million in financial commitments across 233 joint programmes globally. Participants also benefitted from a video reel that showcased youth and women owned businesses from both countries, which are potential beneficiaries of the Joint Program.

Jason La Corbiniere, Cluster Manager Poverty, Governance and Monitoring and Evaluation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), lead UN Agency for implementing the Joint programme, provided a comprehensive overview of the new Joint Programme. UNDP will be joined by UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in managing its implementation.

The Project launch also featured an Interactive Dialogue on ‘Closing the Financing Gap for youth and women-owned MSMEs’ featuring senior officials from participating UN agencies, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Finance, Corporate Governance and Public Private Partnership in Antigua and Barbuda, and the Department of Finance in Saint Lucia.

SOURCE: Office of the Prime Minister

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