Caribbean Leaders Urged To “Compete For Wallet Share” At Inaugural Invest Caribbean Forum

The Caribbean is being urged to compete for the global “wallet share” and step up the promotion of “its investment story.”

That’s the advice from W. Dave Dowrich, vice president of investment at Goldman Sachs and the keynote speaker at the inaugural Invest Caribbean Power Forum, convened by digital media solutions company, Hard Beat Communications and the Caribbean Tourism Organization in New York City on Thursday, June 9, 2011.

W. Dave Dowrich, VP of Investment at Goldman Sachs, 2nd from r., with Chairman of the CTO, Ricky Skerritt, l; Minister Minors of Bermuda, 2.d from l., and Brian Lilly, r., CEO of Lilly Broadcasting and owner of WSEE TV and One Caribbean Weather, premier sponsors of the event. (Sharon Bennett image) Additional sponsors included the PR Newswire, CaribPR Wire, The Bahamas Weekly, News Americas Now and the Caribbean American Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Dowrich, addressing a packed room at the New York Marriot Marquis Hotel in Times Square, insisted that the Caribbean’s investment “product” stacks up against most other regions of the world, including the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) on several fronts, such as political stability, accessibility and ease of doing business.

But “where we fall down is in selling and telling our investment story, i.e. thePromotion – Pof the principles of marketing,” he said of the CARICOM region, whose combined Gross Domestic Product is put at US$90 billion.

Comparing the Caribbean to private companies going public and the need to ensure that their story continues being told to their existing and future investor base, Dowrich said the Caribbean and its leaders must see investment in a similar vein.

We therefore need to be sure that at every opportunity, our story is told on a consistent basis and told by credible and trust worthy folks such as our senior ministers, and then reinforced by our teams on the ground, who can ‘talk the talk’ of those that need to hear it,” he said.

Dowrich was one of four speakers who addressed the event yesterday. Others included Patrice Kimberly Minors, Minister of Business Development & Tourism of Bermuda; Martin Mohabeer, the Guyana-born Managing Director of Spackman Group and CEO of Spackman Capital and David Brillembourg, CEO of the Brilla Group.

Minors for her part insisted that Bermuda remains open to doing business while Brillembourg advised that attention be turned to Latin American pension funds as potential investors in the Caribbean region.

Mohabeer announced the SEAF Caribbean Growth Fund, insisting that the Caribbean small business market is “tremendously underserved.”

With this fund we hope to change that,” said Mohabeer, while adding that the fund will make investments in small to middle enterprise firms specializing in IT, media and technology and construction among other sectors.

Among the over 120 attendees at the event were several money managers from the New York’s investment community as well as top tourism officials from the Caribbean including the Hon. Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Minister of Tourism and International Travel for St. Kitts/Nevis, Ricky Skerritt; Hon. Richard Sealy, Minister of Tourism, Barbados Hon. Ed Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica; Hon. Peter David, Minister of Tourism, Grenada; Commissioner of Tourism of St. Eustacius, Clyde Van Putten; Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Hugh Riley; Sylma Brown Bramble, director of CTO North America; Alec Sanguinetti, Director General of the Caribbean Hoteland TourismAssociation, Josef Forstmayr, President, Caribbean Hoteland Tourism Association, and other top CTO officials as well as Caribbean directors of tourism.

This event surpassed our expectation,” said Felicia Persaud, CEO of Hard Beat Communications, which conceptualized and co-presented the event with the CTO. “We look forward to making this an annual part of Caribbean Week in New York.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization was proud to team up with Hard Beat to present this event, since in these tough economic times, investment in the Caribbean is critical and the CTO believes strongly in continuing to boost the tourism sector of this vibrant region by presenting investment opportunities for its members,” commented Brown-Bramble.

The Bermuda Department of Tourism and the Pennsylvania-based WSEE TV and, both part of Lilly Broadcasting Corporation, were the official sponsors of the ‘Invest Caribbean Power Breakfast.’

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