Maxwell Haywood, president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. has expressed delight about what he described as a very successful initial, special Diaspora business meeting last Saturday aimed at establishing a Vincentian American Chamber of Commerce.
Haywood, a United Nations social development officer, told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, that the main Vincentian organizations in the Diaspora, with the capacity to initiate the project, are “fully” supportive of the initiative.
“I feel a sense of great accomplishment by our Diaspora to have managed to bring this idea this far,” said Haywood after the meeting at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, considered the primary gathering venue for most Vincentians and organizations in the “Big Apple.” “Our community is better off as a result of this successful meeting.
“I feel as if we are now on a path that, in many ways, could be irreversible in terms of setting a firm foundation for more wealth creation in our Vincentian community in the United States,” he added. “This has great implications for the development process in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Vincentian Diaspora.”
Haywood said the meeting, convened in partnership with the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), and the New York Consulate General, attracted about 30 delegates.
He said the meeting achieved the objectives of presenting the case for a Vincentian business organization in the United States, hearing the views of the Vincentian business persons in the U.S. and establishing a Steering Committee.
Eight nationals were nominated to lead the Steering Committee, Haywood said. They comprise: Vaughn Toney, president and chief executive officer of the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers, Inc.; lawyers Curlina Edwards and Colin Liverpool; educator Dr. Atiba Weza; businesswoman Joanne Legair; insurance executive Judy Marksman; medical supplies personnel Michelson Mclean; and accountant Andre Bailey.
Haywood noted that the Vincentian Diaspora in the field of business has a “long history” in the U.S.
“All along, it was always the view of most people that more could be done in the Diaspora to promote the growth and development of Vincentian-owned businesses in the U.S.A.,” he said.
“There is a clear need in the U.S.A. for the Vincentian business owners, Vincentian business professionals and Vincentian business students to come together on a constant basis to address issues and opportunities before them, and to come up with solutions that the entire Diaspora community in the U.S.A. and SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) could rally around,” he added.
Furthermore, Haywood said the business sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has expressed interest in working together with Vincentians living abroad in promoting the business interest of Vincentians at home and those in the Diaspora.
He also pointed to the formulation of ideas and proposals in the business section of the Diaspora Framework for Action, which emerged from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Conference of 2009.
One of those proposals is the creation of a “Vincentian Business Association in the Diaspora,” Haywood said.
He said the initiative is to empower Vincentian-owned businesses in the U.S.
“It will enhance the process that would establish of a strong Vincentian platform or umbrella organization – Vincentian Chamber of Commerce in the U.S.A./ Vincentian Business Association in the Diaspora,” Haywood said.
“It will promote Diaspora investments in the economic and business development of SVG and in the United States,” he added.
“We believe that it will provide the opportunities for all Vincentians to discuss the business and economic development issues in SVG and in the SVG-U.S. Diaspora,” he continued.
Additionally, Haywood said such initiative will promote “productive employment and wealth-creation in SVG and in the United States, via Diaspora investments.
“This initiative will help us to think through these matters and to develop clear views as to how the Diaspora could create a platform for promoting business activities that will benefit Vincentian businesses and, by extension, all Vincentians at home and abroad,” he said.
Toney was the feature speaker at the meeting, which also heard addresses by Edwards, representing COSAGO; Cecil McKie, SVG Minister of Sports, Tourism and Culture; U.N. Amb. Rhonda King; Consul Gen. Selmon Walters; Mulraine “Mac” Richards, public relations officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc.; Ben Harrison, Toronto-based International Correspondent, THE VINCENTIAN newspaper; and Margarita Cabral, of the Brooklyn-based New American Chamber of Commerce.