A proud Dominican displays his creations at an Expo
A proud Dominican displays his creations at an Expo

Dominica offers many marketable goods, skills and services, but the vital output of the local manufacturing sector is often overlooked-especially products derived from the island's natural resources.

The nation's economic growth is severely impeded by a huge trade deficit. It is quite clear that heavy reliance on the traditional staples of the economy like agriculture and tourism cannot sustain the quest for sustainable development.

In this scenario, diversification of Dominica's economy and prudent expansion of its export capacity are of paramount importance. Local manufacturers can play a meaningful role in restoring a positive trade balance and generating employment.

A small corps of innovative local entrepreneurs has taken up the challenge to 'think outside the box' and utilize scarce resources to create manufacturing projects. These should be cultivated to become the most important generators of economic growth at this time.

Many nations in the world have been exploring the benefits of encouraging small manufacturers. At the same time, they are putting systems in place to foster the growth of new or established industrial-scale manufacturing ventures. Meanwhile, it seems fair to say that only the bravest of the brave have dared to venture into Dominica's manufacturing sector.

Nevertheless, the nation can point proudly to a small group of hardy manufacturers whose vision, ability to maximize the use of their resources and sheer resilience in tough business conditions have made their ventures survive or thrive against the odds.

These priceless contributors to the local economy recently got a welcome incentive in the form of a soft loan facility using funds from the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme and announced by the nation's Prime Minister in the 2017-2018 National Budget.

The Dominica Manufacturers Association has hailed this as the positive use of Government funds to help manufacturers deal with unique business challenges, albeit with the proviso that the terms and conditions should be within members' reach.

Nevertheless, the nation has everything to gain and nothing to lose from the willingness of its leaders to accept, embrace and encourage the local manufacturing sector.

In this climate of support for manufactures, The Sun has produced a special series of articles to highlight their setbacks and triumphs as they carve a niche for themselves in a very complex economic environment.