Assistant Secretary General Speech


July 21, 2017 - Washington, DC

H.E. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS
Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister
Hon. Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce of St. Kitts and Nevis
Other participants of the Study Tour
Esteemed Ambassadors and Alternate Representatives
Mrs. Kim Osbourne, Executive Secretary for Integral Development
OAS Officials
Good Evening,

It is a pleasure for me to offer closing remarks at this evening’s reception in celebration of the Small Business Development Centers Initiative. You have already heard remarks from several speakers so I will not speak extensively.

I do wish to reiterate the importance of this initiative in engendering entrepreneurship and economic activity in the communities of its beneficiary countries. As you know, the SBDC Caribbean project was first launched in October 2012 in my home country Belize in partnership with the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) and the University of Texas at San Antonio. To date, the SBDC Belize has attracted a significant number of clients and has offered several training programmes to small businesses in the community. I have seen first-hand the impact of this Center in training and assisting our people to become entrepreneurs and grow their businesses.

This year’s study tour is meant to build upon your experiences and equip you with the tools to further strengthen and expand the work of your individual SBDC. Furthermore, I believe that continued partnership and collaboration among project beneficiary countries is critical. You are a part of a highly valuable and essential network that is seeking to address some of the most pressing issues facing our countries, such as unemployment and economic development. The training provided by these Centers is also helping some of our most vulnerable populations, such as the youth, young girls, and single mothers to become empowered and take ownership of their futures.

I wish to thank all of the participants for taking part in the tour and joining us here tonight. I wish to particularly acknowledge the presence of the Ministers from the Bahamas and St. Kitts and Nevis. Your participation demonstrates the importance you have placed on this initiative and your keen understanding of its impact in changing the lives of your populations. I always emphasize that in small countries like the Caribbean, such seed projects that for many may seem inconsequential in the grander scheme, have an enormously positive impact on our peoples and the potential to transform communities and localities.

With that said I take this opportunity to thank the staff of the Secretariat for Integral Development of the OAS, particularly Ms. Kim Osborne, Secretary for Integral Development, and Ms. Maryse Robert, Director of the Department of Economic Development, who have worked tirelessly since the project’s inception to ensure its success and expand its impact in the Caribbean. I also acknowledge Secretary General Almagro for his leadership and recognition of the importance of economic-driven initiatives such as the SBDCs programme to the Caribbean. Both the Secretary General and I remain committed to supporting our CARICOM Member States in the projects and initiatives that inure to the benefit of their peoples.

Lastly, I wish to thank the Permanent Mission of the Bahamas to the OAS for hosting tonight’s reception and supporting the SBDC programme and especially the United States Permanent Mission to the OAS for its invaluable and consistent support of this program.