This from Patricia Rowe-Seale, Audit Portfolio Director, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank as she addressed the 2011 Research Grants launch at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) recently.
Rowe-Seale noted that the current economic climate meant that, "Private sector companies, including the financial services sector, will need to be even more proactive in developing and tailoring products and services that best suit the evolving needs of their clients. It also means that we all have a vested interest in maintaining the buoyancy of our economies and that we must all work together to achieve this."
CIBC FirstCaribbean has provided US$62,500.00 to fund research over the next year, which is being undertaken by six academics across each of UWI's three campuses. The research spans a diverse range of topics including: A Cross-border Comparison of the Use and Application of Marketing Research Capabilities within the Caribbean Banking Sector.
At the launch, CIBC FirstCaribbean presented Barbadian, Dr. Jonathan Lashley, Research Fellow, Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies with US $25,000.00 to fund his year-long study - Joining the Second Revolution: From Microcredit to Micro-financial Services in the Caribbean. The research will take an exploratory look at whether the implementation of micro-financial services to the poor is a viable option both commercially and as a tool in the eradication of poverty.
Dr. Lashley thanked the Bank as well as UWI for their support of the study. He noted that there were high levels of 'bankarisation' in the region, with, for example, some 66% of persons involved in the credit union movement in Barbados. However, lower-income earners, tended to use their savings as insurance rather than for productive purposes such as education and investment due to traditional insurance being perceived as bureaucratic, expensive and not able to accommodate the high-risk nature of the poor.
Dr. Lashley expressed the hope that through the project, the commercial needs of both financial institutions and the economically vulnerable would be addressed. The project will take place in two phases with a Demand Study followed by a Commercial Feasibility study. Some 300 persons will be targeted through a household survey. The findings will be disseminated regionally and will be widely accessible to all, he added.
The research initiative stems from the Memorandum of University between the Bank and UWI and signals, noted Rowe-Seale, "Our mutual recognition that an important contribution can be made to Caribbean development if a research culture can be fostered that brings together the interests of academia and practitioners in the banking sector."
Dr. George Belle, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in thanking CIBC FirstCaribbean noted that UWI's partnering with the private sector demonstrated national engagement as well as advanced research and innovation.