Release – Innovation was at the center of discussions as the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered to host the ‘CEO Breakfast’ in Saint Lucia on July 11, 2022. The event, the first in a series, was held under the theme “Re-Imagining the OECS: Discover Opportunities and Innovate Forward.
The CEO Breakfast brought together C-Suite Executives, Development Partners, Private Sector Organizations, Civil Society, Academia, Caribbean Governments, and young entrepreneurs to discuss and exchange best practices and strategies concerning innovation, sustainable growth, and development in the OECS. It recognized the necessity of positioning the OECS as a strategic global innovation hub in light of the debilitating existential threats facing our member states.
The discussions addressed the need for a reimagining of our regional entrepreneurial culture through financing arrangements and resocialization to tap into our productive sectors and improve the quality of life of the region’s population. Dr. Didacus Jules, OECS Director General, and Clinton White, USAID Regional Representative for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, both spoke to the importance of innovation in addressing the myriad of challenges facing the region, and the urgency of their continued joint intervention. According to Dr. Jules,
‘’In every area of the economy that has been devastated (by the challenges of the past few years), there are opportunities to bounce back better, but this requires serious creative thinking.’’
Dr. Jules further stated that,
‘’In order for these opportunities to be realized, they need to be technologically infused, digitally enabled, affordable, impactful, sustainable and accessible to all.’’
Mr. White spoke about work being undertaken through events such as the CEO Breakfast, as an opportunity to reduce the large human and economic costs caused by climate change and other shocks.
According to him, ‘’We need to build resilience and invest in preparedness to develop new economic growth opportunities and jobs. Becoming an innovation hub or participating in the orange economy requires an investment in people, and climate adaptation. and sustainable financing.’’
Other panels and discussions focused on an analysis of the Silicon Valley mindset and lessons for the Caribbean, the positioning of the OECS as a global innovation hub, and the monetization of the orange economy.
In honor of the partnership between OECS and USAID which dates back to 1985, OECS Director General presented a Partnership Citation Award to USAID during the event. The Award, which was accepted by Mr. Clinton White on behalf of USAID, recognizes the work of USAID ESC in the OECS Region, particularly in partnership with the OECS Commission.
The OECS USAID CEO Breakfast ended with a call to action to all who were present, to play their part in creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs and businesses, to invest and support key and sustainable initiatives, and to contribute to the development of the region into a global innovation hub. The next CEO Breakfast in the Series will be held in Grenada and will focus on business and innovation in the area of Human and Social Development.
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