The global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda challenges us to transform our fundamental approaches to development to deliver benefits to people, planet and prosperity. In the Caribbean, as elsewhere, it is vital that we find ways to transform our economic development models so that they are: more inclusive and spread economic benefits; environmentally sustainable and operate within ecological limits; and resilient to climate change, natural hazards and socio-economic crises. CANARI and others are advocating that this change to inclusive and resilient green economies can be achieved through enhancing support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that deliver economic, social and environmental co-benefits.


Local entrepreneurs on a field trip to the San Antonio Green Market as part of the GEC Global Meeting held on Nov 1-3, 2017 in Trinidad

Globally, MSMEs account for 95% of the world’s private enterprises, and provide 60% of private sector employment. These numbers are significantly higher when informal MSMEs are included. MSMEs are certainly the backbone of Caribbean economies, making up the majority of businesses; they contribute 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 50% of employment. They are also considered drivers of the private sector that ‘eases the burden on states’ by creating jobs that states would otherwise have to provide. Many MSMEs are in the informal sector and are particularly important for poor and vulnerable groups. They promote innovation, create employment and economic opportunities and deliver economic, social and environmental benefits to our communities and countries.

MSMEs are ideal to drive inclusive and resilient green economic transformation as they: effectively reach economically marginalised groups such as rural communities, women and youth; provide social benefits through local employment; are resilient and innovative and can respond quickly to risks and opportunities due to their small size and flexibility; and encourage stewardship of natural resources upon which local livelihoods depend.
CANARI has supported rural community entrepreneurs in the Caribbean to develop and strengthen their MSMEs to deliver economic, environmental and social co-benefits since formation of the Institute nearly 30 years ago. Recent work under our Rural Livelihoods programme has focused on piloting tools to help rural communities to identify feasible enterprises and develop these to be viable businesses that use natural resources sustainably and help to empower communities. We are also helping to ‘climate proof’ these enterprises so that they are resilient to negative impacts of climate change and natural hazards. We have supported amazing community enterprises making chocolate and honey, producing craft from natural products and providing community ecotourism.

Progress is being made but greater support is needed for MSMEs to scale up impact through: enhancing the policy, legal and regulatory environment to be more supportive to MSMEs and the informal economy; providing access to financial and other resources, including technology and markets; providing technical and business support services tailored to their needs; promoting and facilitating knowledge exchange; and providing avenues and mechanisms for input into policy-making to ensure that their needs are addressed.

In particular, our efforts should focus on local green micro-enterprises (as a particular sub-set of MSMEs) that use the Caribbean’s rich natural heritage of our forests, mangroves, coral reefs and other ecosystems as the basis for the goods and services that they provide. These enterprises are owned and operated at the local community level and deliver triple-bottom line benefits: economic benefits to alleviate poverty; social benefits to empower communities; and environmental benefits through sustainable use of natural resources with minimal negative impacts on the environment.

Enhanced support for MSMEs, especially local green micro-enterprises, will contribute to transformation to more inclusive, resilient and environmentally sustainable economies and delivery of the following SDGs:
• Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
• Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
• Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
• Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
• Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
• Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

CANARI has joined others in issuing a global call through The Santa Cruz Declaration on Local Green Enterprises for scaling up support to MSMEs for transformation to inclusive and resilient green economies.

For more information on CANARI’s work on Caribbean MSMEs delivering economic, environmental and social co-benefits see:
• CANARI Policy Brief 19: Supporting Small and Micro Enterprises to be pathways to a Caribbean green economy
• 10 ways that Small and Micro Enterprises can drive the Caribbean green economy

eu-logo3CANARI is implementing the #GE4U project as part of the global project Creating enabling policy conditions for the transformation towards an inclusive green economy being funded by the European Commission and managed by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) on behalf of the Green Economy Coalition (GEC). This blog has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents are the sole responsibility of CANARI and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Tags: Green economy, green enterprises, MSME, #GE4U, #GEVoices, #SDGs