The COSME Programme was launched on April 1, 2014 on the island of Tortola (BVI). There the parties involved in management of the program met in person and via video conference to start up the Programme. The 41 month programme will disperse $15M Euros to projects benefitting participating Caribbean Territories. The funds were made available by the Europian Union (EU).
The programme’s overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable and climate-resilient economic diversification and prosperity of Caribbean OCTs. This by improving the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the participating territories.
The Programme’s main office is in Tortola BVI, with a satellite office in Curaçao. The government of the BVI (the Financial Secretary in particular) carries the responsibility for the programme. The regional coordinating team is comprised of BVI Deputy Regional Authorizing Officer/Territorial Authorizing Officer, Mr. Neil Smith, along with Senior BVI Government Staff and their deputies seconded to the COSME Programme. In addition to BVI staff the Programme’s Management Unit (PMU) consists of a team of Caribbean key experts retained by German GOPA. The Curaçao government provides office facilities for COSME’s satellite office.
The territories benefitting from the program are:
On June 2, 2014 COSME held its first Steering Committee and Stakeholder’s meetings. Representatives of the territories travelled to Tortola to discuss the Programme’s execution and to approve the first budget to get the ball rolling. The territories were subsequently requested to submit short project ideas in order to help define the Programme’s direction.
The following COSME stakeholder’s meeting was held in Sint Maarten on October 2 and 3. During the sessions the PMU presented its findings and plans and got final stakeholder feedback and approval on execution of the programme. In November the COSME Steering Committee is expected to provide authorization for COSME’s next 10 months of operation
The COSME programme’s mainly aims to improve the business environment for the small businesses on the participating territories. COSME has three specific objectives:
- Objective (A): strengthen the capacity of the Governments of the Caribbean OCTs to service the business sector.
- Objective (B): to improve the capacity of Business Service Organizations (BSOs) to engage in public-/private policy and administrative reform dialogue with Governments and provide services to their constituency of SMEs.
- Objective (C):o promote stronger collaboration, trade and investment relations among the EU, CARIFORUM and the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories.
Expected results and main activities
The expected results of Objective A are the improvement of policies and the legislative and administrative framework for SMEs to establish and conduct business in the Caribbean OCTs.
The main activities that will be undertaken to achieve Objective A are: review existing and define and draft new Private Sector Development / SME policies and strategies; formulate and/or update legislation and regulations affecting the operation of businesses in the participating territories. Where baseline data does not exist the requisite studies (for example, private sector baseline studies including Enterprise Census and/or Investment Climate Survey) will be conducted; and, supply on a limited basis ICT systems (hardware and software) where necessary to improve the administrative framework for doing business.
The expected results of Objective B are improved capacity of business support organizations to deliver the necessary services to their members and engage in dialogue with Government and improved competitiveness of SMEs participating in the programme.
The main activities that will be undertaken to achieve Objective B are: review organizational structure, internal control environment and operating systems and develop the requisite tool boxes, manuals and procedures of BSOs; train and accredit managers, counselors and business advisors in the new tool boxes, manuals and procedures; develop and/or revise websites, quality assurance certification and enterprise / client tracking systems; conduct business diagnostic studies, business plan development, mentoring services for SMEs as well as market identification, product diversification, supporting improvements in innovation and technology , creation of clusters and other collaborative platforms; provide direct grants to selected SMEs to assist in the implementation of business plans/business upgrading; supply on a limited basis ICT systems (hardware and software) to BSOs where necessary to improve the administrative framework for doing business; and provide support to public-private dialogue, lobbying and representation.
The expected results of Objective C are improved collaboration, trade and investment relations among the EU, CARIFORUM and the Caribbean OCTs
The main activities that will be undertaken to achieve Objective C are: support the participation of BSOs and SMEs in meetings of the joint CARIFORUM/FCORs (OCTs Task Force on Trade and Investment); explore opportunities for collaboration, trade and investment identified in the Report on Trade between the OCTs and the Wider Caribbean which was commissioned in 2010 by the Regional Preparatory Task Force; conduct further research with regard to the constraints to the development of ICT connections/virtual market place and transportation within the OCTs and between the OCTs and the wider Caribbean; form umbrella associations in trade and private sector development among Caribbean OCTs; and, promote business linkages as well as linkages with research institutions.