CANARI calls for funding for environmental enterprises

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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The Caribbean National Resources Institute (CANARI) has called for funding tailor-made for local green-blue enterprises (LGEs), along with a special legal status, a national policy and business development support services.

CANARI was launching its Caribbean Local Green-Blue Enterprises knowledge platform and Root Capital pilot project virtually on Monday.

At the launch, executive director Nicole Leotaud called for funding to be tailor-made for LGEs.

“An LGE is not your typical business. It is devoted to something much bigger,” she said. “They are committed to the triple bottom line – people, planning and profits. They are really a pathway to the green and blue economy. They reach those who are marginalised, so people who are in rural communities. They address multiple development priorities.

“It is a very important sector – but it is not receiving the kind of support it needs. It needs a legal definition and legal framework,” she said. “Right now in the Caribbean there is no special legislation for social enterprises. They treat it just like any other business, even though they give us all these other benefits. The national policy framework is not enabling this sector. Business-development support services are not tailored to the needs of this sector. LGEs also need tailored financial products and a one-stop shop for proper financing and business support services.”

An LGE is a micro, small or medium-sized enterprise that has a potential positive effect on the local environment, community, society or an economy. LGEs consist of informal and formal MSMEs that use green business models, develop green products or engage in green business practices.

Technical officer Danielle Morong Johnson, in a demonstration of the LGE knowledge platform, said CANARI developed the platform with LGEs, business support organisations, policy-makers and financial institutions.

“The information on the platform has been grouped to collate with the type of information and the needs of each of these users,” she said.

The platform includes pages that teaches about LGEs, initiatives, tools, stakeholders and resources; pages that connect potential investors and support organisations to LGEs; and pages with education on accessing finance and business support as well as meeting the “triple bottom line.”

The Root Capital pilot project is a proposed fund run by an LGE co-operative which will support LGEs through financing, capacity-building, mentorship and community building.

Johnson said along with capacity-building, creating an enabling environment for LGEs and connecting LGEs with financial institutions, the project’s objective is to provide alternative financing for the sector.

“We all know that LGEs are limited in their options for finance, whether it is just their location or the capacity that they may lack to understand the meticulous nature of the products that are acquired through our financial institutions. We intend for Root Capital to provide that alternative financing option. Root Capital will then help to minimise risk which a financial institution has to face.”

Judith Punch-Wafe, manager for the Centre for Business Innovation, Republic Bank, said the bank is showing its interest in the sector.

“We have put our money where our mouth is, because the bank has set up this unit. The progress is slow because it is on a learning curve, it is all new.

“What we really want to do is work with institutions like CANARI, because it’s all about collaboration. That is the only way we can move forward.”