The Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI) recently hosted a meeting for an EU programme that's intended to strengthen Caribbean OCT governments' abilities to service their countries' business sectors.

COSME, which stands for Caribbean OCTs Small and Medium Enterprises, was hosted on Tuesday, 4 November, at the Westin Casuarina Resort. DCI Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh said the programme's overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable and climate-resistant economic diversification and prosperity of the Caribbean OCTs, by improving the competitiveness of their small and medium enterprises.

COSME steering committee members from the 12 Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories – Cayman, Anguilla, BVI, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius, St Maarten, and St Barthelemy – attended the meeting in Cayman, which built on progress made in early October during a meeting held in St Maarten.

Prior to both meetings, the OCTs prepared proposals intended to strengthen the policy, legislative, and administrative frameworks for small and medium business, across all 12 countries. The steering committee's task during the Cayman meeting was to review the proposals, and to select and recommend to the EU those they believed should be funded.

Mr Rajkumarsingh noted that US$15 Million in funding has been earmarked by the EU for COSME.

The Cayman meeting was opened by Councillor Roy McTaggart, in the Ministry of Financial Services and Commerce. He noted that to successfully accomplish their task, committee members would 'need the patience of Job, the inclusiveness of the apostle Paul and the wisdom of Solomon – because ultimately, you are not just reviewing numbers and words on an application.

'Your decisions today will no doubt influence lives in the future, perhaps for generations to come, because each proposal that you will review represents a dream, a quest, to do better economically', he said.

He encouraged the committee members to 'think big, for the greater good', because every small- and medium-sized enterprise forms the backbone of their countries' economies.

'By developing policy, legislative and administrative approaches that are implementable across our borders, we knit together a much stronger SME infrastructure for us all', Councillor McTaggart said.

After deliberations and agreement by the committee members, the COSME consultants will now take the approved projects to the EU for final approval and funding.

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