Mainstreaming the Cluster Approach in the Caribbean Region: The CCPF Cluster Capacity Building Initiative
In the Caribbean region, clusters hold tremendous potential because of the predominance of small and micro enterprises, their weak link in value chains and the scarcity of specialized inputs. The Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) has backed a capacity-building campaign for the cluster approach with the aim of mainstreaming cluster interventions in the region. This report explores how the process of mainstreaming is taking shape among those business support organizations (BSOs) involved in the CCPF project, currently involved in the implementation of cluster projects. The study addressed these questions: (i) Have the BSOs improved their capacity to identify, design, and implement sustainable cluster initiatives? (ii) Is the cluster approach becoming mainstream in the Caribbean region? Based on primary evidence, the main findings are as follows. BSOs have played a key role by engendering a collaborative culture amongst clusters. One of the main achievements in implementing cluster programs is the increasing cooperation between clusters. Among the BSOs, there is general agreement over the usefulness of monitoring the cluster implementation when taking informed decisions, but the collection of information is also challenging. In the Caribbean region, cluster policies do not yet represent the core of industrial development policies; nonetheless, the potential for a more regional approach to cluster mainstreaming has surfaced in interviews. Policy recommendations for introducing and promoting the mainstreaming of a cluster approach in the Caribbean region should take a three-pronged approach that focuses on (i) cluster organizations, (ii) national ecosystems, and (iii) regional ecosystems.