The Hon. Asot Michael, minister of investment and trade, government of Antigua and Barbuda, and Christopher McNair, manager, competitiveness and export promotion, Caribbean Export

Country advisers appointed as OECS calls for grant scheme proposals

From the Caribbean Export Development Agency

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), in cooperation with the European Union, commenced a three-day workshop April 4 to train country advisers from OECS countries on the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS) at the Trade Winds Hotel, St. John’s, Antigua.

The agency announced last month that grant funds would be provided to CARIFORUM businesses via the DAGS and they would be accepting proposals from businesses beginning April 23. A key component to maximise the utilization of the grant funds allocated under the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) is through ensuring companies understand the application process and the procedures. Country advisers are being trained across the region to provide assistance to companies during the application and reimbursement stages of the programme.

DAGS is a reimbursement grant-funding facility specifically designed to provide financial assistance to legally registered firms and individuals with the potential to export their products and services. Under the new DAGS programme, grants from a minimum of €10,000 and to a maximum of €50,000 are available to CARIFORUM firms.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Honourable Asot Michael, minister of investment and trade for the government of Antigua and Barbuda, congratulated the agency for the timely and crucial programme to support the region’s private sector and encouraged firms to make the necessary steps to participate in the programme and leverage the opportunity.

Direct assistance grants have typically been used by companies to modernize equipment, upgrade facilities to international food and quality standards, enhance products and packaging, implement alternative energy systems, train staff, develop collateral materials, and market and promote products and services for export. The DAGS provides a platform that supports Caribbean businesses to become more innovative and compete internationally.

“Access to finance is a critical pillar to enable companies to expand, create new jobs for our economies and generate foreign exchange,” said Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export Christopher McNair.

Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM), currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme (RPSDP), funded by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.

The agency has now trained 38 country advisers across the region. Details can be found on the agency’s website at www.carib-export.com.