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The Diaspora’s role in entrepreneurial development in the Caribbean

With the identified constraints of access to funding, taxation and bureaucracy, an inadequately trained workforce, crime and corruption, the Diaspora is called upon to play a significant role in entrepreneurial development within the region.

These were some of the sentiments that came out of a business and management conference staged by the Mona School of Business and Management recently.

It was said that despite these barriers, research has shown that the region, when compared with a number of developed countries, has higher levels of entrepreneurial intention. For these reasons it is believed that the Diaspora can play a vibrant role in local entrepreneurship.

From a body of work examined about entrepreneurship and regional development, scholars and presenters alike were of the view that the Diaspora can strengthen the platform by providing capital, the know- how, and access to a transnational network of connections.

Joseph Matalon, in addressing the conference, added that he strongly supports existing literature and the narratives put forward to support how the Diaspora as a group can contribute to economic development.

“Much work remains to be done in order to truly capitalise on the opportunities of [the] Diaspora’s involvement, which can be done by including more and better data on the Diaspora as well as their interest and motivation,” he said.

Other discourse on the subject matter also puts forward that governments can do more to remove obstacles and create opportunities for the Diaspora in order for them to be more engaged.

In addition to those actions mentioned by Matalon, other means of harnessing their assistance could involve identifying goals, mapping location and skills of Diaspora members, fostering a relationship of trust with the Diaspora, and maintaining sophisticated means of communication with them.

Matalon also urges countries to not look to the Diaspora as a source for equity capital. He instead calls on government, private sector and academia to “put shoulders to the wheel in partnership”.

“It is this type of collaboration that will offset Sir Arthur Lewis’ vision of creating a dynamic and innovative indigenous entrepreneurial class that can play an outsized role in fulfilling economic development,” he stated.

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