Development Bank is platinum sponsor of first Diaspora Conference and Expo
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation breaks new grounds next week when it plays host to 250-plus Kittitians and Nevisians from the diaspora at the inargural Diaspora Conference and Expo at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. The three-day event that runs June 26-28 marks the culmination of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs policy document that aimed at reaching out to the diaspora through the country’s missions.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation Kaye Bass noted that the ministry wanted the country’s missions overseas to engage the diaspora. She said the holding of the conference has been made possible through partnerships with corporate sponsors. She made the remarks June 14 when she received a sponsorship cheque from Vernitha Maynard, marketing officer at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, which is one of the platinum sponsors.
The conference has been strategically sandwiched between two events that will bring home a large turnout from the Kittitian and Nevisian diaspora, the Anguilla Nevis and St. Kitts Associations Reunion (ANSAR) biennial meeting in St. Kitts June 22-24 and the St. Kitts Music Festival that blasts off June 27.
“A lot of [people] will be coming home – ANSAR itself, I understand, will be catering for about 500,” said Bass. “We are exploiting that event hoping that some who came for the ANSAR biennial meeting will stay on for the Diaspora Conference, as well as the music festival. That is usually the case, because we hosted ANSAR in 2008 and most stayed on for the music festival.”
The conference theme – “Building Partnerships toward Sustainable Development” – was chosen for two reasons, Bass said, noting that the Sustainable Development Goals instituted under the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda have within them 17 goals that range from ending poverty to establishing international partnerships. “We realised that for the government to be able to achieve these goals, it has to build partnerships, not only with the private sector, international partners and states, but with its own diaspora,” she said. “So, we are going to build partnership with the diaspora.”
Since the ministry perceived the diaspora as valueable, it was decided that a diaspora conference to initiate engagement would be perfect. After making a Cabinet submission, the Cabinet supported the idea and endorsed the formation of a planning committee comprising different government agencies’ officials, as well as from civil society and the private sector.
When the conference opens, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aviation, and Premier of Nevis the Hon Mark Brantley will deliver the welcome remarks, Ms Michela Macchiavello from the International Organisation for Migration will speak on Diaspora and Development. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, will give some remarks.
“Throughout the two days we also will have some panels,” Bass said, composed of members from the diaspora community to discuss how they developed themselves overseas and how they are giving back to the country. They will also talk about their challenges and opportunities in trying to give back to the country.
On presenting the platinum sponsorship cheque, Maynard said that as a financial institution, the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis has the diaspora at the centre of its development agenda. It has – through its education and personal development funds programmes – contributed to the growth of the Kittitian and Nevisian Diaspora
“The Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, which understands that development should be pursued from all available angles, has contributed immensely toward the transition that makes our people members of the diaspora,” observed Maynard. “We are therefore pleased to partner with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to harness tangible development from our own people who have developed themselves while overseas. This Diaspora Conference is timely at this stage of our country’s development.”