September 8, 2011 

Harris At Large!  


Every successful undertaking must have a dedicated driver. The OECS Business Council idea was introduced in 2009 and after much persistence by an Official of the ECCB, leaders in the private sector took note and today the organization is poised for a successful implementation across the OECS. While Chambers of Commerce are in the forefront in most countries, it is the expressed intention that the OECS Business Council be the representative private sector umbrella organization throughout the sub region. In St. Lucia a few private sector associations, namely St. Lucia Manufacturers’ Association, St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture and St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association embraced the idea from the inception.

 Several video conferences were held during the planning stages of the organization where a number of issues were discussed and decisions taken. A meeting was held in St. Kitts a few months ago where an interim board was appointed and the St. Kitts & Nevis Chamber volunteered to serve as the Secretariat to facilitate an early implementation of the Council. The Council will seek to bring to the attention of the OECS Heads of Government matters that affect the private sector along with recommendations. It was also noted that international funding agencies will rather deal with a block of countries than deal with them individually.

 An important alliance was also formed with the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the United Kingdom as Lead Partner in partnership with three Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the OECS and Promofirenze – Special Agency of the Chamber of Florence. The alliance resulted in a nineteen month Pro-Invest project – “Developing East Caribbean Business Organizations” (DECBO). A conference was hosted at the Bay Gardens Hotel Conference Room in St. Lucia – September 5&6, 2011 to update the partners and representatives of Chambers throughout the OECS. Representatives from Antigua & Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines participated fully in the discussions. Every opportunity was taken to make it abundantly clear that the OECS Business Council is not a Chamber organization but it is open to all private sector associations. The initial organizational work in most part is being undertaken by the Chambers.

 The two day agenda covered topics such as Building Regional Partnerships, Organising the OECS Business Council to function effectively, Programme for advancing the continued operation of the Business Council, The DECBO project – its structure and components, The DECBO experience, Lessons for Eastern Caribbean Business Support Organisations, Replicating and sharing ideas and experiences, Current issues affecting OECS Private Sector, Future projects and capacity building development. The presenters were Doug Mahoney, OBE, International Trade Director – UK Trade & Investment, Jonathan Webber – Birmingham Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Kim Knowles, KRK Associates – DECBO Evaluator, Alessandra Princi, Business Development Officer – Promofirenze,  Michael Morton, Chairman – OECS Interim Business Council, Calvin Cable, Executive Director – St. Kitts & Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Arnold Thomas, Executive Director – St.Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and Brian Louisy, Executive Director  – St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

 The DECBO project has set the stage for an informed approach regarding the operation of the Council and established relationships that have committed to provide continued assistance to the Council beyond the lifetime of the project. In St. Lucia an attempt was made to form a Private Sector Council but it was unsuccessful. Local Chapters of the OECS Business Council will definitely be a step in that direction. The Saint Lucia Coalition of Services Industries should also benefit from the establishment of the Council.

Moving forward, the Council is expected to be fully implemented by September 30, 2011and a programme of sensitization is expected to follow shortly thereafter. This will take the form of visits to all Member States by a team to outline the benefits of the Council and to emphasise the need for all private sector associations in each island to be on board. This is an opportunity for all private sector associations to take full advantage of and prove one more time that Unity is Strength.

 Remember always to Keep the Faith, God is in Charge, Dream Big and expect Daily Miracles!

 Edward Harris

Biblicist, Freelance Journalist, Author, Realtor, Business & PR Consultant

Email: eaharrisdestiny@gmail.com

Websites: www.stluciapropertydeals.com www.stluciasimplybeautiful.com


www.brainstorminggroup.webs.com  www.cariblist.com  St. Lucia – Agent ECREDMC

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