Background information

Within the framework of the initiation of the project of implementing the SBDC model in St. Lucia, and taking into consideration the interest of St. Lucia in assessing the possibility of adapting and implementing the SBDC model, with the goal of broadening and improving assistance services to the micro and small business sector, on March 13th, 2012 the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs in collaboration with Caribbean Export Development Agency, the Organization of American States, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Department of State of the United States of America hosted the event titled “Small Business Development Center Model: learning the SBDC model of the University of Texas at San Antonio”, during which the SBDC model promoted by the University of Texas at San Antonio was presented.

As a result of the consultation process, public, private and academic sectors' representatives considered that the model could be adapted to the St. Lucian context and would support the implementation of it. The "Certificate Training for Future SBDC Counselors and Directors" to prepare professionals on how to operate and manage an SBDC was finalized in May 2013.

The Ministry continues to work on the SBDC model implementation in the country, which involves, among other things, assigning its Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU) as the "anchor" SBDC organization, with other organizations and institutions with specialized expertise, including the Sr. Arthur Lewis Community College, linked to SEDU through MOUs. To this end, the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs successfully completed the signature of several MOUs in an effort to galvanize the public-private partnership of the SBDC network in St. Lucia, part of the model adaptation.

Monday May 19th, 2014 marked a key milestone in this process as it was the first meeting of the SBDC network in Saint Lucia, where the vision, mission and service offering of the local SBDC was presented. Saint Lucia continues to receive strong government support for the model which was exemplified in the attendance of the Honourable Emma Hippolyte Minister of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs, who headed the delegation visiting UTSA San Antonio, Texas from June 16th-18th, 2014 and Washington, DC from June 19th-20th, 2014.

Saint Lucia has launched its SBDC pilot network on November 19th, 2014, which comprises of two SBDCs - one domestic SBDC hosted by SEDU and one specialty center hosted by the Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA).