US15 Billion Went Back To The Caribbean Last Year; Is It Time For A Fund?

Windel Pierre, 41, a Haitian cab driver, sends money back to Haiti from Miami, FL. (Photo by Peter Whoriskey /The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. May 14, 2021: Over US $15 billion was sent back to the Caribbean region in remittances last year, a News Americas analysis of the latest World Bank report on global remittances has found.

Three Caribbean countries received the most despite the global pandemic. The Dominican Republic received US$8.3 billion in remittances last year while Haiti received US$3.1 billion and Jamaica US$3 billion.

Other countries received the following amounts:

Guyana – US 361 million

Trinidad & Tobago – US 178 million

Barbados – US 108 million

Dominica – US 49 million

Grenada – US 48 million

St. Vincent and the Grenadines – US 44 million

St. Lucia – US 41 million

Sint Maarten – US 33 million

St. Kitts and Nevis – US 26 million

Antigua & Barbuda – US 25 million

Turks & Caicos – US 7 million

Suriname – US 1 million

Citing the data on Thursday, Invest Caribbean CEO, Felicia J. Persaud, presenting at a National Bar Association panel on ‘Africa And The Caribbean Region: Bridging the Diaspora through International Trade & Investment,’ said the time had come for the Caribbean and Africa to turn the billions of remittances into an Africa and Caribbean Diaspora Fund.

Identifying the shared issue of lack of access to capital faced by businesses in both regions, Persaud challenged fellow panelists and the Association to join Invest Caribbean in making such a fund a reality.

“We are talking about a combined US 60 billion conservatively that goes back to these regions annually. Imagine if we can turn that into a fund that delivers a return on investment for the sender plus helps develop economies and funds dreams,” she said. “The power is really in our hands here in the Diaspora, if we can simply unite our human and financial resources.”

Stellar panelists who included Dr. Antonia Joy Kategekwa of the UN Development Programme (UNDP); Efe Ukala the Founder of ImpactHER; Florizelle Liser; President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa; and Simone Williams, the founder and managing attorney of Williams Global Law, explored structural impediments to international trade and investment that impacts the Diasporas as well as targeted solutions such as the New African Continental Free Trade Area. It was moderated by Attorney James Woods, Jr., chair of the international partnership committee of the NBA and also included an address by Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the US Virgin Islands and President of the NBA, CK Hoffler.

The great potential of using diaspora investments to finance development in the Caribbean and Africa has been argued by diverse studies and advocated by the World Bank, IMF, the African Development Bank, diaspora organizations and a wide range of other reputable institutions. However, there are hardly any structured diaspora mutual funds, and only four African countries have ever issued bonds packaged and targeted specifically for the African diaspora. The National Bar Association was founded in 1925 and is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African American attorneys and judges.