The Caribbean is home to diverse businesses reflecting the region’s wide range of industries such as tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, finance, and technology. Each island has its unique economic strengths and challenges. Additionally, given the region’s geographic location and economic ties with countries outside the Caribbean, particularly the United States, businesses must navigate international trade regulations and the competitive environment.
But why should we highlight Caribbean entrepreneurship and business trends? Several reasons.
Small businesses are the backbone of most Caribbean economies. Caribbean entrepreneurs are known for their creativity and innovation. They think outside the box and develop new ideas and solutions. They exist within a supportive ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurship and helps companies to grow and thrive. They have been successfully attracting local and foreign investment, which provides much-needed capital to fuel growth and expansion. And, they’ve built a stronger community locally, and pride abroad, within the Caribbean diaspora.
Some general trends and challenges are common across the region.
5 Notes on the Current Business Climate in the Caribbean
1. Small businesses dominate
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of most Caribbean economies, accounting for a significant portion of employment rates. According to the CARICOM Secretariat, SMEs add approximately 40% to the Region’sRegion’s GDP.
2. Tourism is a major economic driver
The Caribbean is known for its beautiful beaches and tropical climate, making it a popular tourist destination. It is, therefore, no surprise that tourism is an essential channel of economic growth in many Caribbean countries. In 2021, tourism and travel accounted for more than 39 billion US dollars going towards the GDP of these economies.
3. Digital transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses in the Caribbean, with many companies adopting e-commerce and other digital technologies to reach customers and streamline operations. This sector can boast the most growth in recent years and has the pandemic to thank for it.
4. Challenges to doing business
There are several challenges to doing business in the Caribbean, including high energy costs, limited access to financing, and bureaucratic red tape. Looking at bureaucracy, in November 2021, the Gleaner reported, “Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, has flagged the region’s overall poor Ease of Doing Business Index as one of two major deterrents to attracting private-sector business investments to the Caribbean.”
5. Innovation and entrepreneurship
Despite the challenges, the Caribbean is home to a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and innovators. Many businesses in the Caribbean are finding creative solutions to their industries’ challenges, using technology to overcome barriers to entry and reach new markets. For example, some tourism businesses, such as Jamaica Inn, developed virtual tourism experiences to cater to travelers unable or unwilling to travel due to the pandemic. Similarly, some agriculture entrepreneurs use mobile apps and other digital tools to connect farmers with buyers and improve supply chain efficiency.
Resources and Initiatives
The Caribbean also has a growing startup ecosystem, with a range of incubators, accelerators, and funding programs supporting the development of new businesses. Initiatives such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, Caribbean, give entrepreneurs access to funding, mentorship, and other resources, helping them to overcome some of the challenges faced by startups in the region.
In addition to driving economic growth, entrepreneurship and innovation have the potential to promote social and environmental sustainability in the Caribbean. For example, some entrepreneurs are developing solutions to address climate change, such as sustainable agriculture practices and renewable energy technologies. Programs such as the Eastern Caribbean Green Entrepreneurship Initiative announce calls for proposals to help these firms develop.
Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential for the continued growth and development of the Caribbean region. By supporting and promoting these activities, policymakers, investors, and other stakeholders can help to create a more prosperous and sustainable future for the region.
The Caribbean region is home to many successful entrepreneurs who have built thriving enterprises in various industries. One of the most successful Caribbean entrepreneurs is Jamaica’s Michael Lee-Chin, who founded Portland Holdings, a diversified investment company in the tourism, financial services, and energy sectors. Another notable entrepreneur is Trinidad & Tobago’s Kiran Mathur Mohammed, who founded Green Dot, a renewable energy company that provides solar power solutions for businesses and homes.
Other successful Caribbean entrepreneurs include Grenada’s Donnarieve Thomas, who founded Dee’s School and Stationery Supplies, a company focused on providing unique and trendy office supplies, and Haiti’s Wyclef Jean, who came up with the Augmented Reality guitar.
These successful Caribbean entrepreneurs exemplify perseverance, innovation, and dedication, building strong networks, leveraging technology, and investing in education.
A Final Thought
In conclusion, the key industries in the Caribbean present a range of opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs and businesses in the region. While the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted many of these industries, there is significant potential for growth and innovation in the years ahead. To capitalize on these opportunities, entrepreneurs and businesses in the Caribbean must be proactive, embracing emerging trends and technologies while addressing the challenges their respective industries face. By doing so, they can drive economic growth and development while also promoting social and environmental sustainability in the region.
By highlighting the achievements and potential of Caribbean entrepreneurs and businesses, we can support their efforts and promote the economic and social well-being of the region.