infoDev has supported incubation in the Caribbean for a number of years, assisting the development of European Union-supported incubators in the Eastern Caribbean and with analytic work investigating competitiveness and ICT in the region. The funding it provided to create the new regional incubator network is in recognition of the Caribbean as a specific region with growing interest in business incubation models that respond to the unique needs of small island states.
The network, known as the Caribbean Business Incubation Association (CBIA), will provide entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses with technical assistance, training, and access to business facilities and financing that have historically been difficult to obtain in the region, creating a barrier for new companies in their crucial start up phase.
The CBIA network is the latest regional partner of a global network of business incubators in developing countries managed by infoDev. The infoDev network is the world´s largest network of business incubators based in developing countries. Established in 2001, it has grown significantly in recent years and doubled in size from 2008 and 2009. The network now includes nearly 300 business incubators in 86 countries.
The CBIA will be based at the Center for Enterprise Development (CED), an established Business Support Organization in St. Vincent and the Grenadines . Its initial work will focus on capacity building and information-sharing networks. In the future, the network hopes to offer facility-sharing programs, client exchanges, and joint initiatives between incubatees.
“We see this network as one of the most important tools for encouraging development through entrepreneurship in the region,”said Felix Lewis, general manager of CED. Participation in the CBIA incubator network will be open to entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Grenada, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, and Montserrat.
Historically, developing and middle income countries have been less likely than developed economies to focus on the potential of entrepreneurs as drivers of economic growth, despite the fact that such innovators are known to play an important role in job creation and the fact that the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship is known to exist equally in all corners of the globe.
A recent info Dev study showed no specific geographic trend in terms of where innovative entrepreneurs can be found and no evidence that developed countries have a higher rate of novel product-market combination than less developed countries. The study also found no pattern of successful entrepreneurs coming from limited professional backgrounds.
Historically, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like those participating in the CBIA network, have been at an economic disadvantage because of their small population, limited resources, geographic remoteness, and excessive dependence on international trade. Their growth and development have been impeded by high transportation and communication costs, expensive public administration and infrastructure costs.
The creation of a regional business incubator network is one step in a larger effort to focus Caribbean nations´ development strategies toward modern a modern service economy that leverages the benefits of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
“By providing entrepreneurs and innovative small businesses with the tools they need to succeed and the training and network necessary to offer their services to international clients, the CBIA network will become an essential catalyst for growth in the Caribbean region,” said Valerie D´Costa, Manager of infoDev. I look forward to what I am certain will be a very successful venture.”