The Inaugural Barbados Diaspora Conference was recently convened by the Government of Barbados at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. Under the aegis of several arms of government and other strategic partners, the Conference attracted approximately 450 people over the 3-day period from August 5-7, 2010.
The Conference commenced with a reception held at the Prime Minister’s official residence, followed by a series of sessions under the theme ‘Strengthening the Bonds that Unite Us’. The sessions, held over the last two days of the conference, drew on the expertise of a number of government ministers, officials and industry professionals while equally embracing the views of Barbadians locally based and in the Diaspora.
Invest Barbados hosted one of the Conference’s sessions entitled “Investment Opportunities in Barbados: Capital and Skills of Overseas Barbadians”. The session was well attended and was moderated by CEO of Invest Barbados, Wayne Kirton. Speakers included Minister of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. the Honourable David Estwick; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Mr. Martin Cox and Deputy Director for Banking, Currency and Investment at the Central Bank of Barbados, Ms. Michelle Doyle. Others were General Manager of the Barbados Cooperative Credit Union League, Mr. Anthony Pilgrim; CEO of the Barbados Stock Exchange, Mr. Marlon Yarde and CEO of Altman Real Estate, Mr. Paul Altman.
In giving the opening address to the session, the Minister lauded the contributions made by the Barbadian Diaspora to the continued development of the country. Requesting their continued support, he highlighted some of government’s initiatives aimed at facilitating the Diaspora’s involvement in national affairs. These included the development of the Network Barbados website and the review of incentives for individuals wishing to relocate to Barbados.
Minister Estwick stated, “We are open to new ideas, new ways of doing things. It is my hope and vision that Barbados will be a major player in the development and production of innovative products and services. If you have ideas, new ideas, I implore you to repatriate them and let’s work together to develop them.”
He therefore discussed with those present some of the projects which government hopes to bring on stream as investment opportunities for Barbadians at home and abroad. These, along with those discussed by other members of the panel, included the development of green ideas such as alternative and renewable energy, solar electricity, wind farms; medical tourism; international filming; biotechnology and venture capital for industries such as ICT, music and fashion.