CIBC FirstCaribbean contributes over US $1.425 million to University of the West Indies for regional development
A partnership forged 11 years ago between two leading regional entities has seen CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank contributing over US $1.425 million to the University of the West Indies. The funds have gone to support the education of the region’s young people, with a special emphasis on development in areas such as research in banking and finance and issues affecting Caribbean entrepreneurship, and financial support for young people pursuing a course in higher education at one of the UWI’s three campuses.
This long-standing partnership was renewed for another three years when Chief Executive Officer of CIBC FirstCaribbean and Chairman of the ComTrust Foundation, Rik Parkhill, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, signed another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently at the bank’s Head Office at Warrens, St. Michael. The ComTrust Foundation is the bank’s charitable foundation which was established to oversee its corporate giving programme throughout the Caribbean.
CIBC FirstCaribbean is extremely proud of this long-standing partnership, which goes beyond the provision of a sponsorship cheque, and sees the two entities working together in a number of projects throughout the life of each MOU. This is the fourth MOU between the two entities, the first being signed in 2003 in Jamaica. Through the current three-year MOU CIBC FirstCaribbean and UWI will collaborate across four areas: the advancement of knowledge and understanding of issues affecting business, trade and financial services in the Caribbean context; the support and development of UWI students from around the region; the enhancement of research in banking and finance at UWI; and the joint pursuit of mutually beneficial business and corporate image initiatives.
Scholarships awarded to 180 students through partnership
Specific initiatives borne out of the collaboration in the new MOU include a grant of US $15,000 to support a quarterly business forum organised by UWI to discuss key issues facing regional economies and financial services sector; and funding a scholarship programme for UWI students valued at US $112,500.
Each year, through the CIBC FirstCaribbean’s funding, scholarships valued at $2500 US each are awarded to 15 undergraduate students enrolled at the UWI. More than 180 scholarships have been awarded over the life of the bank’s 11-year partnership with UWI. For the first time this year, the MOU also includes provision for the award of a scholarship to a student reading for a postgraduate qualification.
Support for entrepreneurship continues
Support is also given to student entrepreneurs with seed capital of US $45,000 through UWI’s Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development project. The programme equips students with knowledge and practical skills in entrepreneurship, several of whom have gone onto business success and further acclaim.
The bank sponsors an annual competition in which students enrolled in SEED present the business plans for their companies and are awarded cash prizes that go towards their businesses.
Furthermore, research on issues important to banking and financial services will be supported through a grant of US $82,500. This grant will be awarded on a competitive basis to researchers on all three campuses of the UWI with results being published as well as shared at a research symposium.
The MOU also makes provision for the bank to continue its financial support of the well-received annual CIBC FirstCaribbean Frank Worrell Memorial Lecture with an annual grant of US $5,000. There is also provision for senior employees of the bank to serve as guest lecturers in their field of expertise at the UWI’s three campuses, and for CIBC FirstCaribbean’s support of the UWI’s graduate placement programme.
After signing the MOU, CIBC FirstCaribbean CEO Rik Parkhill said the bank was “extremely pleased” to continue its partnership with the region’s leading educational institution. “Our relationship is unique because it provides not only avenues for financial investment but, and just as important, opportunities for us to interact and collaborate on areas of vital significance to the development of the Caribbean.”
Mr. Parkhill added that intellectual capital was a key driver of organisational excellence and competitive advantage. “The University of the West Indies is a prime incubator and generator of intellectual capital and this capital will be incredibly important in helping to navigate the region out of recession.”
Describing the partnership as “ancestral” Professor Beckles, in thanking the bank for its commitment to their relationship, said CIBC FirstCaribbean came to the assistance of UWI at a critical juncture in its development.