On 16 November, 187 Caribbean tourism entrepreneurs from different countries across the region celebrated their virtual graduation ceremony after successfully finishing a three-months Business Adaptation Programme under the United Nations Development Programme.
UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean launched the project Future Tourism: Rethinking tourism and MSMEs in time of COVID-19 in January 2021. Its aim is to support micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector post Covid-19 and to promote economic diversification, job creation and resilience which boosts recovery by supporting the digitally enabled transformation of the business processes and value chains.
As part of the project, UNDP together with the University of The West Indies and Frankfurt School has designed the Business Adaptation Programme for tourism MSMEs to provide them with the digital and business skills that are needed to adapt and innovate in the post-COVID-19 era. Gender equality and empowerment of women are integral parts of the programme, with 77 percent of the participants' businesses being owned or managed by women.
MSMEs play a crucial role in the economic development of Caribbean economies. They constitute over 95 percent of the total companies in the Caribbean subregion. As MSMEs rely strongly on tourism, they have been the most affected sector during the pandemic.
Through the Frankfurt School managed Business Adaptation Programme, MSMEs developed their skills in three areas: 1) digital technologies, 2) financial planning and 3) marketing. With the skills attained in these areas, businesses will be able to rebound and adapt to the instability and challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the MSMEs are better equipped to withstand further future shocks and continue to make valuable contributions to local and regional economies. For example, following UNDP’s Blue Economy for Green Islands approach, the project seeks to promote resilience to shocks such as climatic and natural disasters.
At the Business Adaptation Programme’s graduation ceremony, Fatma Dirkes, Director and Vice President, Frankfurt School, International Advisory Services, said: “I am proud that Frankfurt School and the project team have been part of this innovative and interactive way to support you, dear graduates, and contribute to the value creation in the Caribbean and MSME arena.”