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US, IDB launch business plan competition for Caribbean

Published:Friday | May 11, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The United States, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, has launched a business plan competition for the Caribbean, aimed at promoting jobs and economic growth.

The US State Department said the plan is also geared towards forging partnerships between members of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.

The plan, known as the Caribbean Idea Marketplace Challenge Fund, will provide a US$100,000 grant to each of the 10 best business plans, the State Department said.

It focuses on business partnerships in Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The State Department said the competition, which opened in March, closes on May 30.

It said organisers will select the best concepts and invite entrepreneurs to submit an actual business proposal. Each will receive US$10,000 to help with plan preparation, the State Department said.

It said prospective regional applicants must have US$100,000 in assets, with the diaspora partner being a legal resident or citizen of the US, Canada or the United Kingdom, or have a relevant connection or experience in the Caribbean.

In 2008, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) established a US$2-million investment fund to assist members of the Haitian diaspora who had a sustainable business plan and were willing to partner with Haiti's private sector to create jobs.

That fund, known as the Haiti Diaspora Investment Challenge Facility, has since ended, USAID officials said.

- CMC