The Role of SMEs in the Caribbean

Pamela Coke-Hamilton is the Executive Director of Caribbean Export. Caribbean Export is a development agency established in 1996 by an Intergovernmental Agreement as a trade promotion agency for the 15 CARIFORUM Member States. 

This document is a contribution to the June 2014 edition of the newsletter of the EU-LAC Foundation dedicated to SMEs. 

There is no denying the important role that the private sector plays in the Caribbean region. According to statistics from the CARICOM Secretariat, the regional private sector creates at least 70% of jobs. Apart from large mineral companies (e.g. bauxite and petrochemicals), the majority of Caribbean firms can be considered SMEs and they operate in a variety of sectors including the agricultural, manufacturing, tourism and services sectors. There is no fixed definition of an SME across the region even though efforts are underway to develop a Regional Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Policy that will standardize such definitions. For example, in Jamaica a small enterprise is defined as one with 4-­10 employees and with assets of US$ 100,000 or less whereas in Trinidad and Tobago, a small enterprise must have between 6-­25 workers with assets of US$40,000 -­ $240,000.