St. Lucia minister says embracing digitization can lead to new business and job growth

Minister Hippolyte outlines the importance of e-commerce in enhancing job growth in St. Lucia’s economy 

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA — The nation must fully embrace digitization to seize new business opportunities, foster job growth and ultimately restore the economy, asserted Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Emma Hippolyte.

As the St. Lucia business community recognizes November as “Business Month”, Hippolyte emphasized that the push towards technological advancement has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic to the point where “one can truly be left behind”.

“In-person contact has been limited, especially in activities such as purchasing, working and socializing. Enterprises have been forced to conduct business via the internet,” the minister said.

St. Lucia Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Emma Hippolyte.

Noting the job growth and opportunities ushered in amidst the new environment, Hippolyte continued, “Certainly, COVID-19 has fostered the atmosphere for more e-commerce and remote working. As a result of COVID-19, digital engagement levels have increased exponentially to a point where information and communication technology can no longer be characterized as a mere support service, but it is now the principle driver in the business ecosystem.”

She added, “It is therefore imperative that our nation, especially our business community — the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) — remain abreast with the technology at our disposal, as well as find ways to take full advantage of these opportunities.

“E-commerce is an important tool for innovation, competitiveness, job creation and growth. It offers new potential for traders, MSMEs and others to expand their market reach and connect with overseas buyers, suppliers and consumers of goods and services.”

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    Digitization plan

    Minister Hippolyte said the St. Lucia Medium-Term Economic Development Plan has identified digital development as “a driver of economic growth and competitiveness”, while the country’s National Competitiveness Agenda “highlights digitization of industries and the development of a digitally skilled talent pool as key priorities”, further expanding the opportunity for job growth.

    A group of workers on the computer.

    On the occasion of Business Month, Hippolyte’s ministry, in collaboration with the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, has scheduled “a myriad of activities” aimed at providing free training and other development tools to seasoned and prospective businesspeople.

    All of the sessions will be held digitally, which Hippolyte said demonstrates the urgent need for St. Lucians to embrace digitization given the “significant role that technology plays in the scheme of things”.

    Hippolyte said, “This is in sync with our government’s youth economy focus. All workshops will be conducted virtually and encourage business owners and prospective business owners, especially our youth, to capitalize on these capacity-building tools.”

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