OECS/ITC workshop proving a success

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By Orville Williams

Stakeholders involved in the ongoing regional business excellence seminar have voiced their pleasure with the developments, noting in particular, the shared business experiences and solutions.

The joint exercise, hosted by the Competitive Business Unit in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the International Trade Center (ITC), brings together Business Support Organisations (BSOs) from across the Eastern Caribbean in a drive to increase efficiency in service delivery.

Over 19 diverse BSOs from eight OECS member states are represented at the four-day workshop, taking place at the Starfish Jolly Beach Resort, including trade support institutions, trade promotion organisations, investment agencies, chambers of commerce, coalition of services and manufacturing associations.

Andrena Simon, Technical Specialist – Trade Promotion and Institutional Strengthening with the OECS, explained the purpose of the initiative and its intended impact.

“We saw the need to strengthen our national institutions within the region, so that they can better service their small [and] medium enterprises, so that they become more competitive. Also, to help them strengthen themselves – the organizations delivering these services.

“Coming out of this strategic exercise, we are teaching them how to align their mandates and services to better


their clients and also to be able to strategically plan activities to create better impact within communities of the OECS,” she stated.

Simon also shared that the OECS’ partnership with the ITC will include a number of other activities toward strengthening the regional institutions and this workshop is just the beginning.

Penelope Hurndell, Benchmarking and Capacity Building Expert with the Swiss-based ITC, is a facilitator for the workshop and expressed delight with the progress being made.

“The takeout’s been amazing … we’ve got people at the highest level – chief executives and board presidents, they’ve come to learn and they are learning – they are sharing their experiences and they are really being incredibly engaged … it’s been fantastic, we love that.”

“So far, it’s been a situation where we’ve had a lot of great, robust discussions, a lot of issues have been aired that others find to be issues in their countries as well. This is one of the things that we want to talk about a lot – how do you create good partnerships and good collaboration inside your countries and between countries to really improve things impacting the region”, she explained.

Tony Regisford, Executive Director of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce – one of the regional BSOs participating in the seminar – shared similar sentiments,

“So far, we have looked at areas [such as] strategic planning, risk management and [client analysis]. Essentially, that is what the training is all about and it has delivered so far”, he said.

Regisford also explained the importance of the regional integration made possible by the seminar.

“One of the other big takeaways, not even so much from what is delivered as the course material, but from the interaction with your peers – similar organizations from different countries –  you can identify commonalities [and] that’s been very useful, being able to huddle and discuss where opportunities may lie in solving the issues”, he explained.

The Antigua and Barbuda Chamber of Commerce and Industry is also taking part in the workshop, which enters its final day today.

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