CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Apr. 20, (CMC) – The St. Lucia government has launched a new initiative, aimed at helping the small business sector improve business productivity in selected thematic areas.
Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony, said that the ProCom Challenge was conceptualized by the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) with funding assistance from Compete Caribbean.
“It is a policy response to the domestic challenges highlighted during consultations with the private sector as part of the NCPC Productivity Assessment Study,” Anthony told the ceremony.
He said research from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) suggests that a unit increase in “innovation expenditure” increases labour productivity by 63 per cent.
“While the importance of innovation is understood by the business community, micro and small businesses in St. Lucia have reported that a major challenge has been accessing finance for those ventures,” he said.
“As a government, we have noted these challenges. We understand that innovation projects are often expensive undertakings due to the associated risk. Therefore, as part of our commitment in supporting firms to be more productive and competitive, the government of Saint Lucia, through the NCPC, will be financing the ProCom Challenge,” he added.
Under the ProCom Challenge, businesses are invited to apply for co-financing up to EC$100,000 (One EC dollar -=US$0.37 cents) in selected thematic areas, including energy efficiency; compliance with local, regional, and international standards; reduction of operational costs; and improving business productivity.
Anthony, speaking on the theme “Driving Productivity and Competitiveness Through Innovation”, said that innovation challenges, such as the ProCom Challenge, are commonplace where jurisdictions are aiming to boost their level of output and effectiveness.
He said, on average, over 20 per cent of firms in advanced economies receive public support for innovation, compared to less than five per cent in the Caribbean.