TraDE Saint Lucia – Merger of SBDC and TEPA


On March 21st, 2016 Cabinet (Conclusion No. 191 of 2016) approved a proposal by the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs for the creation of a new entity that would meet the needs of all business sectors, from conceptualization to export.  This entity, the Saint Lucia Agency for Trade Promotion and Development of Enterprise or TraDE Saint Lucia, came into effect on April 1st, 2016.

TraDE Saint Lucia combines the core competencies of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), also known as the Small Enterprise Development Unit, and the Trade Export and Promotion Agency (TEPA) to enhance the provision of business support services to the business sector (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises).

The merger is a recommendation arising from a comprehensive diagnostic review conducted on the operations of the Ministry of Commerce and its support agencies in 2015.  It is part of the wider restructuring efforts of the Ministry of Commerce as we continually seek to improve our service to the local Commercial sector, thereby creating an ecosystem that will enhance Saint Lucia's international competitiveness.

The SBDC, with its core strengths being capacity building, long term consultation, and start-up assistance, and TEPA with its focus on market intelligence, trade facilitation and export strategy together under one roof, one brand, is the perfect union to lead Saint Lucia into economic prosperity.  These two agencies are commended for their positive contribution to the successes of our local entrepreneurs over years.


This merger is the inevitable outcome of a concerted effort over the years to revolutionize the way services are offered to the MSME sector, in order to improve the sector's performance.  Two (2) significant changes were:

(i) The transformation of the Office of Private Sector Relations (OPSR) to TEPA in 2012, whose mandate is to implement Saint Lucia's National Export Development Strategy (NEDS).

 (ii) The adoption of the US Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) model. 

Cabinet approved the SBDC model in September 2014, and the Ministry of Commerce, Business Development, Investment and Consumer Affairs launched the Saint Lucia Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) two months later in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). We join four other Caribbean territories - Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Jamaica - in this quest to make our countries more enterprising.Saint Lucia's version of the model features the SBDC Network of Partners - Business Support Organizations, Financial Institutions and Academia - organized in a way to create and capture economic impact.The Saint Lucia SBDC served as the administrative hub of the SBDC network, and TEPA, one of the partners, had been earmarked to serve as a specialty SBDC.It was envisaged that the network will strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem within Saint Lucia through the stakeholder agencies.There were regular meetings of the Network to review processes, and share information in order to better assist their clients. Client Referral System - Clients are shared across the network, making it easier to provide assistance and develop businesses. This is a step forward from what had been the operating norm in which these agencies operated in silos, resulting in duplicated efforts and inefficient use of resources.


(i) In June 2015, almost one (1) year after the launch of the SBDC the OAS conducted a thorough review of the operation of the SBDC. The report issued from this review indicated that although the SBDC caters to micro and small enterprises, it is limited in its ability to meet the needs of the high-growth and export-oriented enterprises, which require similar business support services to take advantage of new market opportunities.

(ii) The Diagnostic Study and Organizational Review of the Ministry of Commerce and its affiliated agencies, initiated by the Ministry, revealed that the SBDC has been unable to meet the needs of exporters given its mandate, and the Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) whilst it provides access to export markets, its business development component needed to be strengthened.  The review was done during the period July 2015 to October 2015.

(iii) A key recommendation was that immediate attention be given to a merger of TEPA and SEDU/SBDC, to create a "one-stop-shop" for business support services throughout the business growth cycle continuum; to improve effectiveness and achieve value chain optimization.

(iv) The Ministry embraced the recommendation because it reflected the feedback from extensive consultation with representative private sector bodies, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Invest Saint Lucia, St. Lucia Manufacturers' Association (SMA), Saint Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA), the Saint Lucia Coalition of Service Industries (SLCSI), etc.; as well as the public sector agencies, such as Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Tourism.

(v) In addition, within the Government structure, the SBDC has not been able to respond in a timely manner to the needs of the businesses.

(vi) Further, it was intended for the SBDC and TEPA to share the same database, NeoSerra (the Client Activity Tracking System), working seamlessly to deliver services to the clients. This will be realized as the SEDU/SBDC and TEPA have become one entity.

(vii) By combining the clientele of TEPA and the SBDC, the new entity will inherit a wider information base; and therefore it would be better positioned to conduct research and analysis of the business sector for policy improvement and future strategy development.


The main beneficiaries - existing businesses as well as start-up entities and aspiring entrepreneurs, such as the youth, seeking to build on their ideas. Entrepreneurs are guided from project concept through to completion.


In the Region there are other entities which have combined export promotion and business development services to form a single agency that better serves the business community:

Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC)Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE)ExporTT Trinidad and TobagoJamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO)


 (i) The Trade Export Promotion Act No 19 of 2014 and the Micro and Small Scale Business Enterprises Act Chapter 13.19 of the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia will undergo some limited amendments. The former would be essentially related to the change of name from Trade Export Promotion Agency (TEPA) to Saint Lucia Agency for Trade Promotion and Development of Enterprise (TraDE Saint Lucia).

(ii) The Micro and Small Scale Business Enterprises Act Chapter 13.19 of the Revised Laws of Saint Lucia makes specific mention of SEDU as the administrator of that Act. Consequent to Cabinet Conclusion No. 481 of 2014, efforts to amend the legislation are already afoot to change that reference to the SBDC.


 TraDE Saint Lucia absorbs the existing SEDU/SBDC and TEPA staff in four main functional areas.

i-Business Centre

Trade Information,Market Research and IntelligenceBusiness Logistics and Policy SupportExport Facilitation

Enterprise Saint Lucia

Two (2) sub-units
1. SBDC focusing on Entrepreneurship Development and Start-ups
2. Business Competitiveness Center focusing on Technical Assistance for Production Improvement and Export

Export Saint Lucia

Marketing and BrandingIntellectual PropertyExport Sales Support

Corporate Services

FinanceQuality Management SystemsIT/ Website Support and Design


Overall goals:

Engender entrepreneurshipSupport enterprise development throughout the entire business development cyclePromote export growth in tradition and non-traditional areas

Some activities on the agenda include:

Offering a special suite of services for businesses at each stage of the business life cycle.Developing an MSME Policy with the assistance of the OAS.Greater collaboration with Academia:

- Training and Capacity Building

- Market Research Internships:

-students to conduct market research on behalf of MSME clients.

-expose students to entrepreneurship as part of developing an entrepreneurship culture among our youth.

Market selection - based on detailed demand analysis in external markets, key markets in North America, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean region will be targeted.



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