Fisher folks in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are currently benefitting from training, designed to enhance the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the fisheries sector to improve their ability to access financing for their businesses.
This series of activities form part of an initiative implemented collaboratively by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), with IICA as the implementing agency for the initiative on behalf of the FAO.
Through this initiative, a workshop for fisheries sector stakeholders was held on February 22 and 23, 2023 addressing business plan development for small business operations. This workshop was designed to provide participants with knowledge on the fundamental requirements for the development of business proposals that could be used as tools to unlock opportunities financial opportunities either through loans or grants and provides the business proposition for the successful operation of the enterprise.
The training activity was conducted by Mr Dougal James, local consultant to the project who facilitated a very interactive forum for participants over the course of the two days.
Fisherfolk represented at the training activity included representatives of the several fisherfolk cooperatives and businesses from across the country including the National Fisherfolk Organisation, Barrouallie fisheries Development Cooperative Society, Goodwill Fisherfolk Cooperative and several fish processing operations.
In addition to the training, one of the fisherfolk organisation will be supported by the project with the development of a full business plan for their organisation, to help support their efforts to enhance commercial opportunities for their membership.
Mr Vibert Pierre, president of the Barrouallie fisheries Development Cooperative Society, in expressing his appreciation for the training opportunity said, the training that we have received as a cooperative was a timely one for us. It came at a time when we are at the stage of taking the business to the next level.
The information received is relevant for us. Understanding what the components of a business plan are and how to develop it put us in a position to critically analyse our business so we can make sound decisions that can benefit the cooperative. We are grateful for the assistance that we have received from IICA in developing a business plan for our cooperative.
Most importantly, it will not be a plan handed to us, but one to which we have been able to make a meaningful contribution.
According to Michael Dalton, Technical Specialist at the IICA Delegation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this initiative is part of a multi-country collaboration that IICA has with FAO, titled services to support capacity building for micro, small and medium enterprises in Barbados, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The objective of this initiative is to build capacity among stakeholders in the fisheries sector to improve their capacity to access financing. In addition to the training activity and business plan development, there is also a baseline survey being undertaken in each of the participating country which seeks to analyze the ability of stakeholders in the fisheries sector to access financing. This assessment involves a survey of stakeholders – fishers, boat owners, processors and vendors from the fishing communities of Barrouallie, Clare Valley, Calliaqua and Bequia. The field work for the survey is complete and we hope to have the technical report shortly.
Keith Flett, a Blue Economy consultant for the FAO who is overseeing the MSME capacity building project said “trainings like these are vital for the fishing communities to build their understanding of how grant proposals are written and projects are funded. These activities are what seed the advancement of the fisheries in the Caribbean. I am happy to see this work completed and hope it brings many benefits to the communities in the years to come.”
The support to the fisheries sectors by the technical agencies comes at a critical juncture for the sector where there is considerable emphasis on the development of fisheries sector and a drive for fleet expansion to support the expansion in fish processing facilities and the export of sea food. The Government has launched an initiative with the Kingstown Cooperative Credit Union (KCCU) to help fishers secure affordable loans to purchase new boats as part of this fleet expansion drive, as demand for seafood rises. This capacity initiative therefore comes at an opportune time to support the wider efforts of the state.
For more Information:
IICA Delegation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 784 457 2698/784 493 2004