A two day strategic conference was opened by Koos Sneek, the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce for St. Eustatius and Saba, on Monday, writes The Daily Herald. The conference, which is held in the Caribbean Netherlands Science Institute (CNSI) building, is a combined effort of the Chamber of Commerce and the Governments of St. Eustatius and Saba, with the goal to start a programme to strengthen the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector on both islands. Simultaneously, the capacity of business support organisations such as business associations will be increased, enabling them to support the SME sector more effectively.
Carlyle Tearr, represented by Siem Dijkhorns, and Chris Johnson, commissioners of Economic Affairs of the respective islands also addressed the attendees with their opening remarks.
More than 40 participants, representing the island’s private and public sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and tourism were in attendance. Others in attendance were Saba’s Island Secretary Menno van der Velde together with representatives of the St. Eustatius and Saba Business Association and Saba Merchant Association.
The conference is facilitated by members of CBI, an agency related to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a vast experience in 47 countries worldwide in assisting economies to gain more self-sustainability by strengthening the private sector.
The conference is meant as a starting point of a six to eight month programme, which will be guided by CBI, with the ultimate goal to have at least three viable business initiatives on the rails. To secure the commitment of all parties at the end of the conference a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be signed between Governments, Chamber of Commerce and the Business Support Organisations of both islands.
Financing for the conference is provided by USONA out of some remaining funds of the SEI program. Other sponsors are the Windward Islands Bank Ltd., Nu Star Terminals and EUTEL NV. Funding for the remainder of the programme will be secured through the 10th European Development Fund and through funding avail able for economic development by the Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations. The conference was well attended as participants from Saba, Statia and St. Maarten, along with participants from Bonaire all joined with one aim in the conference room at the CNSI building. Director of the CNSI Johan Stapel welcomed the guests to the conference, and facilitators and experts then got on the way to present their subjects to the audience.