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Speech

SALUTATIONS:

Most Hon. PJ Patterson, former Prime Minister of Jamaica

Ministers of Government

Honourable Custos of St. James

Hon Mayor of the beautiful city of Montego Bay

Mr. Kris Balderston, Special Representative for Global Partnerships, US Department of State

Mr Steven Puig, Vice President  of the IDB

Mr JJ Saveedra and other members of the Compete Caribbean team

Ms Mimi Alemayehou, Executive Vice President, Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Representatives from international development agencies

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the local and international business community

Our special invited investors

Other specially invited guests

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen;

It gives me great pleasure to share in the launch of the Caribbean Idea Marketplace, which is a special business competition platform that encourages local and diaspora entrepreneurs around innovative projects that will generate employment and economic opportunities in the Caribbean region by providing US$100,000 grant funding for winning projects.

The focus of this Initiative as I understand it, is centred on engaging diaspora communities, the private sector and public institutions in a collaborative process that fosters greater entrepreneurial activities.

The Government of Jamaica commends this idea, and we look forward to how it will impact Jamaica Diaspora communities around the world.

Jamaica, as the world knows, has a large, diverse and dynamic Diaspora. The size of the Jamaican Diaspora is estimated at well over 2 million Jamaicans living primarily in the USA, UK and Canada.

From as far back as the pre-1924 era, Jamaicans have been seeking opportunities overseas through migration, and have always sought to maintain strong ties to their homeland.

Diasporic populations have long played a significant role in the economic, political, social, and cultural life of their home nations. Historically, remittance receipts in particular have served a critical role in maintaining domestic economies which otherwise would have further stagnated.

For us in Jamaica, we value the contributions of our Diaspora and its significant impact on the country’s economic development, particularly in the context of remittances.

For the first 10 months of the 2010-2011 fiscal year, remittance inflows were US1.6 billion dollars according to statistics from the Bank of Jamaica.

However, there are many other ways in which Jamaicans in the Diaspora can make even greater contributions to Jamaica’s economic development.

As a Government, we are seeking to encourage members of the Jamaican Diaspora to increase significantly their participation in the process of trade and investments with their homeland.

Through a coherent Business Diaspora Strategy, to be implemented by JAMPRO in partnership with other agencies of the State, the Government will ensure that the contributions of the Diaspora go beyond benevolence and nationalism, but towards focused, productive and symbiotic business relationships.  This Caribbean Ideas Marketplace will support our efforts in this regard.

On behalf of the Government and the People of Jamaica, I wish to express our sincere appreciation for this idea birthed by the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This is an idea whose time has come.

Ladies and gentlemen, I take great pleasure, on the occasion of the inaugural Jamaica Investment Forum to declare the Caribbean Idea Marketplace, well and truly launched.

 

I thank you.