BARBADOS / ST LUCIA – Two hundred Saint Lucian entrepreneurs with support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will receive training to ensure they can more easily access export markets by complying with packaging and labelling standards.
CDB, the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS) and the ministry of commerce, manufacturing, business development, cooperatives and consumer affairs, collaborated on an 18-month project which will not only build local export capacity but also lead to job creation and increased earnings for small and medium-sized businesses.
According to the bank’s senior operations officer, Michel Thomas:
“At CDB, we recognise that the private sector and particularly Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) make vital contributions to Saint Lucia’s economy through employment and income generation. This impact complements the government’s efforts to improve livelihoods and alleviate poverty.” The bank has provided US$100,000 for the new project entitled “Enhancing the Capacity of Participating MSMEs in Saint Lucia to improve their packaging and labelling design to target new markets.”
Agro-processing products, including jams, jellies, oils, bakery products and teas require packaging and labelling that specifies metric declarations, listing of ingredients, batch numbers, best-before dates and contact information for the producer to ensure they can be safely imported and consumed. Through these capacity-building efforts, small businesses will have the opportunity to explore new markets for export once capable of meeting the standards for entry. These improvements will also complement ongoing work to address other challenges within the sector which limit export potential all mandatory for trade.
Speaking to business owners at the launch of the project, permanent secretary in the ministry of commerce, manufacturing, business development, cooperatives and consumer affairs, Saint Lucia, Sophia Alfay-Henry, stated:
“Some of our MSMEs have great products which have export market potential; however, they continue to struggle to meet the requirements of the export market. This is an opportunity to boost revenue, to become more resourceful and progressive in business ventures and to focus on developing your businesses and embracing new opportunities to ultimately contribute to sustained livelihoods.”
According to Verne Emmanuel, director SLBS:
“Regional and international trade is guided by standards,… A product label serves as a written contract between a willing buyer and a willing seller. It should properly and accurately describe the product and should be void from any material nondisclosure.… This project will see increased market acceptance of Saint Lucian products which conform to international standards.”
Emmanuel indicated that Saint Lucia recognises the important role of standards in facilitating economic development, by assuring the quality of goods and services produced for the domestic, regional and international locally.
CDB’s support of this labelling and packaging project further expands its funding for MSME development in Saint Lucia. The bank has also provided XCD10 million line of credit for the government of Saint Lucia to finance the implementation of a loan/grant programme to assist MSMEs in accessing finance for working capital to address some of the challenges caused by the coronavirus as CDB continues to build production resilience, promote private sector development and competitiveness and grow the MSME sector.