The European Union (EU), the Organisations of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the Inter-American Development Bank Innovation Laboratory (IDB Lab) announce the signature of CARIBEquity, a new US$12.6 million regional private sector innovation facility for the Caribbean.
The strong partnership between the EU and IDB has been reaffirmed on the occasion of the visit of the Deputy Director General of the EU’s Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA) Myriam Ferran to the region. The IDB has been the EU’s partner of choice in Latin America and the Caribbean since the first co-financing agreement in 2011, and together they have executed 50 projects surpassing $3 billion in joint investments.
During the event that took place on 24 November in the IDB office in Barbados, the European Union, and IDB Lab announced the CARIBEquity Facility. This programme is an example of the strong partnership between the IDB, the EU and OACPS.
The new US$12.6 million facility is aimed at consolidating a Caribbean investment ecosystem for inclusive private sector innovation, in order to further foster entrepreneurship in the Caribbean and drive economic growth. The expected beneficiaries under the facility are founders, startups, growth-oriented SMEs, as well as innovation ecosystem actors.
The current nascent state of Caribbean innovation ecosystems results in entrepreneurs facing significant obstacles to starting and growing their companies. Notably, there is a lack of adequate access to risk-tolerant financing for early-stage entrepreneurs. Innovation ecosystem actors, such as accelerators, incubators, academia, and other agencies supporting innovation, also require institutional support to build their capacity and networks to further support the needs of Caribbean startups.
CARIBEquity seeks to address these challenges by offering opportunities centred around financing, knowledge, and connections. This includes the provision of blended finance directly into startups selected via calls for proposals, capacity-building support for innovation ecosystem actors, and fostering public sector-driven innovation through public-private engagement. The facility will also catalyse engagement, connections and networking across the Caribbean innovation ecosystem, leveraging regional and global networks, best practices, and approaches. It is expected that an additional US$19.1 million will be leveraged from the private sector over the 5-year programme through their participation raising the total among of funds available under the facility to US$31.74 million.
CARIBEquity will focus on enabling new solutions and pilot testing new technologies and business models across 5 priority sectors — Agriculture/Natural Capital, Essential Services, Financial Inclusion, Talent/Employment, and Health/Education, each of which represents an opportunity for job formation across key pillars that drive Caribbean economies.
The countries eligible for support under the facility include Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
This programme is a clear example on how the European Union, through the IDB, is landing the Global Gateway Strategy in the Caribbean, the EU’s offer to bridge the investment gap and leverage private capital and investment to boost innovative and transformative investments, tackling most pressing global challenges.
During the meeting, Ferran noted that: “The EU’s Global Gateway Strategy is at the heart of our private sector engagement with the Caribbean. By supporting the innovation ecosystem and entrepreneurs, we are confident that European Union investors will find even greater opportunities to bring our regions together.”
Viviana Alva Hart, the IDB’s representative in Barbados, emphasised the importance of this initiative, stating that: “Driven by IDB Lab’s deep commitment to fostering the region’s innovation ecosystem, CARIBEquity will deploy risk-tolerant early-stage financing for startups, strengthen innovation ecosystem actors and boost their networks. We are confident that through our partnership with the EU, CARIBEquity will empower entrepreneurs to drive innovations focused on benefiting poor and vulnerable populations and activating new engines of sustainable growth in the Caribbean, aligned with IDB Lab’s mandate.”
European External Action Service