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EIB confirms commitment for microfinance investment across the Caribbean ©EIB/To be defined

New and past engagement by the EIB to improve lives and strengthen economic opportunities in the Caribbean was welcomed by two Prime Ministers and a President during an official visit to three counties in the region by Vice President van Ballekom.

In a press conference hosted at his official residence, Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, highlighted the strong engagement of the EIB in his country over many years. He emphasised how the EIB’s commitment to supporting climate related investment, including in small island states, dovetailed with his government’s efforts to support projects that better protect the vulnerable island from extreme weather.

Prime Minister Stuart described how a few hours of rain in neighbouring Dominica had devastated villages and bridges, leaving a reconstruction bill worth half the country’s annual GDP and that this demonstrated the crucial need for most investment in the region to take account of a changing climate.

He welcomed the announcement made earlier by the President of the Caribbean Development Bank and Vice President van Ballekom to increase cooperation between the two institutions, including sharing experience related to climate action. During a press conference CDB President Dr William Warren Smith recognised the dedication of the EIB to enabling the successful implementation of a joint EIB-CDB credit line to unlock investment in smaller climate adaptation projects across the region.

The visit also provided an opportunity to see how past EIB lending through the Caribbean Development Bank had successfully supported development of the island’s leading natural attraction, Harrison’s Cave limestone caverns.

During the second stop, the signature of a new EUR 8 million EIB loan expected to transform internet access in the Dutch territory of St Maarten was seen as essential for economic and social development by both Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs and Finance Minister Martin Hassink. Once operational, the improved network will revolutionize internet connections, including providing free high speed internet to improve health services through Tele-medicine and increase e-learning in schools, and also allow use of smart meters to better manage scarce water and electricity resources in St. Maarten. The CFO of Telem thanked the EIB team in Luxembourg for the professional appraisal and preparation of the loan.

The EIB’s commitment to provide USD 100 million to rehabilitate the electricity sector in the Dominican Republic, once the loan is ratified by the national parliament, was also welcomed by President Medina and Minister of Finance Simón Lizardo as demonstrating the close relationship between the EIB and the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central America. 

President Medina and Juan Montás, Minister of Economy, Planning and Development highlighted the strengthened engagement of the EIB in the country since the relocation of the EIB’s regional office to Santo Domingo. The new office was seen as key for increasing the EIB’s engagement with both the public and private sector.

The announcement of a new EUR 10 million EIB loan to support microfinance lending by Banco Ademi provided an opportunity to highlight how thousands of small scale entrepreneurs had benefited from EIB backed lending in the country over more than 23 years. During a press conference the CEO’s of Ademi , the leading provider of financial services in the Dominican Republic originally founded by the non-profit Association for the Development of Microenterprises, and two other microfinance institutions, Banfondesa and ADOPEM, thanked the EIB for helping them to transform into solid microfinance institutions and unlocking economic opportunities across the country.

Vice President van Ballekom visited four small-scale companies where investment using EIB backed loans has created hundreds of new jobs and met with the main local banks operating in the country.

The first high-level EIB visit in five years was welcomed by EU Ambassadors, representatives of local business associations and colleagues from the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.