OECS UBEC Project Completes Stakeholder Engagement in Saint Vincent and The Grenadines

OECS Media Release
The OECS Commission’s Unleashing the Blue Economy in the Caribbean Project (UBEC) Micro-sized Small Medium Enterprise (MSME) Matching Grants team embarked on an intensive multi-stage data-gathering process and engagement with key stakeholders in the tourism, fisheries, and waste management Sectors during the week of March 18 – 22, 2024. The mission provided an opportunity for Ministry officials, Business Support Organisations, and MSMEs to share their thoughts and experiences within the blue economy with the OECS team.

Senior Grants Advisor of the UBEC project, Mr. Kyle Garnes, said that the objectives of these consultations are to obtain feedback and meaningful insights from key stakeholders, measure their receptiveness to the Matching Grants Programme, and develop synergies locally. Mr. Garnes also noted that the consultations come at a crucial time as the region embarks on a coordinated approach to prioritize meaningful initiatives aimed at strengthening the blue economy and amplifying the need for financing to support its related sectors adequately.

Over the four days of consultations, the team engaged in rich dialogue with stakeholders and obtained a wealth of insights. Stakeholders consistently highlighted the successes, challenges, and fragilities of their respective sectors. Through these engagements, the UBEC project is now equipped to roll out a grants programme that closely reflects the needs and operational realities of blue economy MSMEs.

The Regional MSME Matching Grants Programme involves the provision of over USD 4 million in grants to 75 firms within the blue economy over three years. This funding serves to strengthen the competitiveness, operationalisation, and sustainability of MSMEs.

At the end of the mission, the team expressed their deep appreciation for the overall support and contributions made by key stakeholders in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The UBEC team will continue to engage in consultations with stakeholders throughout the project cycle to inform them about the project and its activities.

About the Unleashing the Blue Economy (UBEC) Project

The UBEC Project, funded by the World Bank, aims to harmonise regulations and enhance cooperation among participating OECS Member States to tackle transboundary issues, including fisheries, tourism, and marine waste management. It seeks to establish the OECS as a benchmark for the blue economy, attracting international support and sustainable investments by the project’s conclusion. The project is structured around two key components designed to bolster the Blue Economy within the region:

Strengthening Governance, Policies, and Capacity Building.
Scaling Up Access to Finance and Infrastructure Investment.
The OECS Commission’s Economic Affairs and Regional Integration Division and Environment Sustainability Division are spearheading the UBEC subcomponents. These efforts target member states including Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and focus on:

Enhancing regional policies, institutions, and coordination.
Implementing a Regional MSME matching grants program to finance business development services and provide matching grants. This program aims to boost productivity, job creation, and capability upgrades within the blue economy value chains.





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