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The ten don'ts of Caribbean small island developing states when creating their future

Published on March 23, 2015 Email To Friend Print Version

By Dr Miguel Goede and Runy Calmera

In this article series about the Future of the Caribbean we discussed the dos for managers, business owners and policy makers in the Caribbean. Here we want to give you a list of the don’ts. Of course these are only suggestions, not rules, to guide you in your choices and strategy.


Miguel Goede is a strategist and trend watcher in the Caribbean. He is based in Curacao and works for governments, corporations and NGO in the region. You can find out more on Join the discussion on Facebook Caribbean 3.0

Based on the trends and opportunities in the Caribbean, there are a couple of no-gos for the Caribbean small island developing states.

1. Do not develop the economy based on oil, gas or other natural resources. These resources will end. Focussing on these resources will only lead to the resource curse. The script is as follows: first you will get a huge inflow of money. In a small open economy this will lead to consumption and imports initially. The economy and the people will become totally dependent upon these income streams and this “endless” welfare. Government will often have a surplus on the budget and base its spending on these income flows. It will often kill entrepreneurship. Why would you invest to become more competitive in this situation? And then when the end of the resource becomes obvious, or there is a strong decline in price, you have to adjust quickly. It will lead to low paying jobs and not to high quality jobs. And it makes politicians and others vulnerable for corruption.

2. Do not bet on the financial markets only. The financial sector is under pressure from the OECD countries and in the years to come the possibilities will become less. In some islands we see a decreasing international financial services sector, because they based their sector on providing tax evasion structures. When the OECD and USA changed the rules, a lot of international corporations simply left the Caribbean jurisdictions. A new requirement is that the international financial services sector has to provide real substance. But the pressure will continue to increase. Another issue is the fact that also a lot of “dirty” money is attracted.

3. Do not underestimate transnational organized crime. It is a source of violence and corruption. Caribbean islands simply lie between Europe and South America. Between demand and supply. As it affects our youths and our future, we have to factor this in our strategies.

4. Do not work ad hoc and focus on the short term only, but develop a long-term vision. If your agenda and scope is only what will happen today, next week and next month you will continue to manage incidents. If you move your scope to a year, two years and five to ten years, you will manage your business, influence your sector and your island. The problems we face here do not have a quick fix.


Runy Calmera is an economist, consultant, trainer and coach on economic analysis and policy for the 52 small island developing states (SIDS). You can find out more on and on Facebook

5. Do not stay in the 1.0 and 2.0 (colonial era / plantation economy or the industrial age) mindset and not embrace the information age (3.0). The rules have changed. Move to Caribbean 3.0. Becoming smart islands connected to the world, with smart businesses and organizations is the only option.

6. Do not copy the strategy from big counties or even from other islands. While you can learn from other islands, your strategy must by tailor made based on the unique offering of your island and the unique possibilities of your people.

7. Do not neglect the environment. The environment is the future.

8. Do not become or stay inward looking, not sharing the diversity with the world and not adopting swift modern technology is a ‘no-no’. Stay out of there. The world is not centered on your island.

9. Do not ignore the need for fiscal reform and reform of the civil service. These are based on the old paradigms and are not suitable for the future.

10. And most importantly: do not ignore the well-being of the people. Use education and empower small and medium enterprises as strategies for poverty reduction.

We might miss some don’ts, but we think these are the no-go areas.

On 17, 18 and 19 March 2015 these issues will be addressed in a free online conference on “The Future of the Caribbean”. Okay, the last don’t: do not miss this opportunity. Get your seat for this conference on and we will keep you informed.

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