Heads of Government, industry ministers and small-business operators from across the region will gather at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay from July 19 to 21 to participate in the inaugural Caribbean MSME Conference. Heads of Government, industry ministers and small-business operators from across the region will gather at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay from July 19 to 21 to participate in the inaugural Caribbean MSME Conference.The Prime Ministers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, have confirmed their attendance, in addition to some seven industry ministers, technocrats, manufacturers, distributors and micro, small and medium-size enterprise (MSME) groups across the region.Dubbed ‘Collaboration for Caribbean Sustainability’, the conference will present opportunities for small-business associations to better serve and support economic growth, while creating a space to address areas critical to the sustainability and livelihood of MSMEs within the region.Addressing a JIS ‘Think Tank’ yesterday (July 5), President of the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), Hugh Johnson, said the three-day event will include meetings, plenary and breakout sessions focusing on MSME financing; policy framework to facilitate growth locally and regionally; and matters related to trade within the region.“We think it’s high time for the small players within the region to get to know each other, to come together and to forge a path for themselves, along with the regional Governments, to get businesses among themselves moving,” he argued.Mr. Johnson pointed out that the small-business sector, key stakeholders, policymakers and technocrats will discuss best practices and initiatives that will allow for greater collaboration with businesses in the Caribbean; regional competitiveness to increase economies of scale; and the removal of impediments to trade among member States.Day one of the conference will facilitate registration, the opening ceremony and a mini-expo which will showcase the products and services of small-business operators within the region.Days two and three will feature three sets of concurrent breakout sessions.Topics for day two include managing the business risk for survival and sustainability; formalising businesses for increased market access; tendering government contracts; equity financing options for small business; and gaining competitive advantage through improvement in information and communications technology, and physical infrastructure.Discussions on day three will focus on free movement of skilled labour within CARICOM; registering businesses regionally; developing the human capital to increase global competitiveness; creating a regional venture capital fund for MSMEs; and MSME policy impact on enterprise culture.There will also be closed sessions for the Ministers and technocrats to discuss critical issues impacting the region.Key participant at the conference will be President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Jonathan Ortmans.Regional groups will include The Caribbean Centre for Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL); Caribbean Farmers Network and Caribbean Network of Rural Women Producers (CANROP).“We will have experts from around the region discussing these issues in detail, so that we can present meaningful, tangible deliverables that can propel the sector forward. So, it is about creating workable solutions to move the MSME sector forward,” Mr. Johnson said.The SBAJ, in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, will be hosting the conference, with major sponsorship from the Jamaica National Group, RJR/Gleaner Communications Group, Flow, Development Bank of Jamaica, Caribbean Development Bank, the Spanish Court Hotel, and Caribbean Airlines.Other partners include the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).For more details on the upcoming conference, persons may visit: www.caribbeanmsmeconference.com; email [email protected] or call 978-9191. The Prime Ministers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, have confirmed their attendance, in addition to some seven industry ministers, technocrats, manufacturers, distributors and micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) groups across the region. Story Highlights Day one of the conference will facilitate registration, the opening ceremony and a mini-expo which will showcase the products and services of small-business operators within the region.