How do micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) play a role in achieving sustainable development in the Caribbean? In this episode of Better Than Before, leveraging COVID-19 for a sustainable Caribbean, Liza Yunis shares her personal experiences on Caribbean MSMEs and green business models.
Liza has over 20 years of international experience in enterprise generation, business planning, project management, and team operations. Among many other titles, she is the Founder and CEO of Soca Samosa in Trinidad.
In the Caribbean, MSMEs contribute significantly to employment, GDP, and innovation. As small island developing states (SIDS), Caribbean face additional socioeconomic issues exacerbated due to the pandemic. Liza believes that sustainable development can only be effectively achieved with major investment and intentionality. This not only includes financial investments, but also understanding, mindset shifts and commitment from all stakeholders, not just policymakers.
Liza points out that while we should be pursuing sustainable development and climate resilience, there is still an urgency to provide for the needs of today even as we think about the future.
We learn about the concepts of green, blue, and circular economies in this episode. In order to secure a climate resilient future, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the pressures on our Caribbean resources and make intelligent decisions around their management. It is important to note that enterprises that incorporate these concepts are feasible, and there is growing interest even from investors.
Liza shares her own experience with Soca Samosa and how they were able to improve their environmental and social impact. The pandemic pushed her to become more innovative and seek out new networks, and as a result, her business became more sustainable. Business owners are challenged to consider how they can move from being an enterprise to being a social and an environmental enterprise as well.
To wrap up, Derval and Liza discuss the role MSMEs can play in building back a better Caribbean. Liza suggests that MSMEs first need to be recognized as a stakeholder in decision making. Small businesses also need greater access to financing and improved financial literacy in order to build back our economies. When MSMEs are financially sustainable, then they can do more to support environment and social sustainability.
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The Better Than Before series is supported under the “Amplifying local voices for a just and resilient COVID-19 recovery” project, which is being implemented by CANARI in collaboration with Panos Caribbean, with funding from the Open Society Foundations (OSF). Better Than Before is hosted by Derval Barzey, edited and produced by Breadfruit Media, with artwork by Carey Digital.