The finalists, named at a press conference last Friday, April 20, are: LinkUp – co-founded and owned by Anthony George and Kenna Questelles-George; Olive Art Designs – founded and owned by Christal Oliver; and Grenadine Wild Sea Salt – founded and owned by Jerry Simpson.
The HiExPo Programme, which will see Invest SVG and CEDA working with the finalists over a two-year period, aims to strengthen the capacity of the selected small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to export to new markets and increase their global competitiveness.
At last Friday’s press conference, Invest SVG Deputy Executive Director Nadine Agard-Juillerat congratulated the finalists, and expressed how eager she is to witness the transformation and development that the selected businesses will undergo through this programme.
“They were chosen via our partnership with Caribbean Export, and there is a [diagnostic] tool that they utilize to narrow down applicants based on the information submitted,” explained Agard-Juillerat.
LinkUp is a technology and marketing business which features a mobile App that makes it easier to find skilled professionals, businesses, restaurant menus and events in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Olive Art Designs is a fashion business with a focus on the design and manufacturing of women’s and men’s bags.
Grenadine Wild Sea Salt is a gourmet salt brand boasting six varieties harvested from the waters surrounding Bequia. FDA testing has shown that it has lower sodium and chloride content than the world’s leading brands.
The concept of the HiExPo Programme came about after CEDA assessed the business environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and found that despite there being “significant potential for SMEs… to capitalize on new, global market opportunities to broaden and diversify the country’s export base”, local businesses are challenged by “limited access” to business development training and targeted support services.
Invest SVG hosted the launch of the HiExPo Programme on February 23, 2018 – which was attended by Chris McNair, CEDA’s manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion. At that launch, he explained that a programme similar to HiExPo had started in Jamaica 15 years ago – and has since seen many success stories.
“We assess you, we find out where the gaps are and we… provide support,” he had said.
“We take you to the market and we introduce you to the kind of channels that allows you to maximise on your products.
“The programme is about finding the diamonds in the rough.”