Several Caribbean businesses converged at the Brooklyn Restoration Plaza for GO-CARIBBEAN!’s first inaugural International Business and Investment Expo from Sept. 22 – 23.
GO-CARIBBEAN! International Business & Investment Expo facilitated the meeting of entrepreneurs, financiers, high net-worth individuals and strategic partners which focused on the development and support of Caribbean businesses across the region and in North America. It was a place to meet and learn about new business trends, discuss best practices and identify opportunities to increase investment in the Caribbean and for Caribbean businesses in the diaspora. GO-CARIBBEAN! is a strategic initiative by Anchor Strategy Group, a dynamic Brooklyn-based firm providing integrated management consultancy solutions for small and mid-size businesses. The purpose behind this meeting was to create an environment and a platform for the Caribbean and American business markets to foster new collaborations that ultimately lead to more investments and a better standard of living in the Caribbean.
In response to the need for job creation both in North America and the Caribbean, GO-CARIBBEAN! was an opportunity to encourage private and public enterprises to increase the size of their customer base and seize this opportunity in international markets. The expectations of the event were to increase the diaspora’s commitment to Caribbean investment through an increased dialogue around opportunities in the region along with aligning new Caribbean companies with venture capitalist and private equity firms internationally. Another expectation was to champion meetings that will lead to key strategic partnerships with Caribbean based businesses and enhance multi-national, multi-lateral and global cooperation. The event also sought to train Caribbean delegates around trade and investments in North America and similarly to the diaspora about the Caribbean markets and strengthen the visibility of Caribbean owned business in United States, Canada and North America.
Rav Ramkeesoon, a member of GO-CARIBBEAN!’s planning committee and event coordinator, viewed the two-day expo as more of a movement; a movement of unity that is desperately needed in the Caribbean business community as opposed to the old way of competing against each other. Ramkeesoon believes that Caribbean businesses are ready to change and work together, not only in the New York City area, but in cities like Washington DC, South Florida and countries like Canada. This has the potential to improve the quality of life for the Caribbean people in the U.S. and in the Caribbean at large. He noted the number of dignitaries attending this event which included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Neil Parson saying that this shows that there are many people interested in the engagement and organizing of Caribbean businesses in the diaspora.
According to Ramkeesoon, there are grand expectations for future GO-CARIBBEAN events. The movement as he calls it, intends to keep bringing people together and expand networks year after year and also smaller meetings throughout the year.
President of the Anchor Strategy Group Kevin Howell and brains behind the expo has a slightly different outlook on competition between Caribbean businesses. Howell believes that competition inspires efficiency and does not necessarily have to be divorced from collaboration. According to Howell, competition does not mean you cannot be friends. While collaboration allows for the transfer of information that would not otherwise occur, competition is critical to success in that it fosters an environment where everyone strives to to do their very best.
Howell believes that this generation of Caribbean people get the importance of collaboration and he is very excited for the future. He said, “It is only the beginning of great things.”
Ambassador Dr. Neil Parsan noted the significance of the expo but warns that this should not be “a one night stand.” The efforts of the expo needs to be sustained and put in the context of an evolving Caribbean. The ambassador said, “The expo is a start, but very often from my observation and experience with events like these is that action needs to come post-event. I applaud GO-CARIBBEAN! for creating the space, but what I would like to see is more business to business engagement in more subsequent events. It is one thing to create the environment, but it is another to finish what has been started and bring it to fruition.”