Description of project:

This project sought to implement one component of the programme of work of the Caribbean Green Economy Action Learning Group (GE ALG), namely to explore how to nurture Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs), including those operating in the informal or semi-formal sectors, to be an engine for green and inclusive economic transformation in the Caribbean using an action research and learning approach with GE ALG members and other key partners in the region.  This was identified as one of the priority areas of work in the GE ALG programme and a preliminary work plan was also developed in Phase 4.  The overall learning question identified was “How can we catalyse, support and empower SMEs so that they bring co-benefits (economic, environmental sustainability, social equity) and address issues of the informal sector?”  This US$58,680 project was funded by UK aid from the UK Government through the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and was implemented over the period March through October 2014.

Highlights

  • Members of the Caribbean Small and Micro Enterprise Action Learning Group used action learning processes to explore some of the challenges they were facing in being effective, either in their work in providing support to SMEs or as small and micro entrepreneurs. Having a cross section of business owners and support agencies from throughout the region brought a wider outlook and deep issues regarding power imbalances, disrespect, organisational culture and capacity challenges were collectively explored.  Participants found that action learning is a useful tool for allowing a group of people with similar experiences and varied experience to focus on analysing problems and identifying solutions in an inclusive and empowering process.

Key activities and results

  • The Caribbean Small and Micro Enterprise Action Learning Group was established and a Research and Learning Agenda was developed. The Group is comprised of 17 leaders from support agencies and SMEs working in three countries and at the regional level.  They used action learning processes to enhance their understanding of the opportunities, challenges and issues for institutions and policy and financial instruments to catalyse, support and empower SMEs as a pathway to green economy in the Caribbean.  Members of the SME ALG explored issues around roles and relationships at different levels: among support agencies – where there are is inadequate coordination and collaboration; among small and micro entrepreneurs – where there are opportunities for peer support, knowledge exchange and collective action and advocacy that are not currently being explored; and between support agencies and SMEs – where there are many specific barriers to a productive and effective working relationship, including issues of trust and respect.
  • SME ALG members are working to influence policy and practice to catalyse, support and empower SMEs. Using action learning processes, members developed strategies to catalyse change in their organisations, sectors and countries.  Members also inputted to influence policy and practice in two countries via: providing recommendations for development of two relevant national policies in Trinidad and Tobago: the Draft Micro and Small Enterprise Policy for Trinidad and Tobago and the Draft Green Enterprise Development Policy for Micro and Small Enterprises and Cooperatives; and participating in knowledge exchange and peer support at the “Greenz Vibez Expo” held by the Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme  (MAREP) of the Government of Grenada.  This is a poverty reduction programme funded by a US$3 million loan from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 Recent news and blogs

  •  Three members of the SME ALG were present at the 7Th Annual Sustainable Livelihoods Conference to launch Policy Brief #19: Supporting SMEs to be pathways to a Caribbean green economy.

 Publications

For more information, contact Keisha Sandy, Senior Technical Officer, at [email protected].

See related work under CANARI’s Green Economy and Rural Livelihoods programmes

 

Keywords: Action research and learning groups; small and micro enterprises;