Premier's Office
Ministry of Financial Services, Labour and Trade
Release Date:
Thursday, 2 November 2023 - 2:21pm

Keynote Address By Honourable Lorna G. Smith

Minister For Financial Services Labour & Trade

At The Buy BVI Trade Expo 2023

27th October, 2023

Ladies & Gentleman, Good Morning.

I am very pleased to see what I would call, the rebirth of the annual Buy BVI Trade Expo after an eight-year hiatus from our calendar of events.

This extended hiatus was mainly due to two reasons – the hurricanes of 2017 and the COVID-19 Global Pandemic which struck in 2020. Both of these events had significant negative impacts on the economy of the Virgin Islands, but yet you have persevered.

I want to firstly, congratulate each of you on your determination to persevere. During these devastating ordeals owning a business wasn’t at all easy but as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going”, and for that you must applaud yourself.

I have often boasted that the entrepreneurial spirit in the BVI is in fact second to none, and your strong will to persevere and succeed is a true testament to this. As I visited some of you at your exhibits I was impressed with your innovation and your keenness to go the extra mile for this occasion.

Local businesses and entrepreneurs are indeed the backbone of the BVI economy.

I encourage all Virgin Islanders, when there is an opportunity to purchase a good or utilize a service, your first thought should always be to “BUY BVI”. It is not only necessary but it is imperative that we support and encourage own business owners that are on persevering in the face of adversity. We must put our money where our mouth is.

When you “BUY BVI”, you are helping your neighbor to earn an income; put food on a family’s table; creating employment for a resident; you are helping someone to meet the cost of sending their children to school.

Supporting our own was one of the foundation reasons for starting the Buy BVI Trade Expo some 26 years ago. And we really must praise the patriotism and foresight of those persons who saw it fit and necessary to start an expo of this nature; with the goal to build up our economic potential. We recognize and thank all who have been instrumental in starting this initiative.

In particular, we remember the Late Great Honourable Delores Christopher, under whose watch the first Buy BVI Trade Expo was organized. We all recall that Honourable Christopher had a very strong passion for developing the talent and potential of the BVI. And this was reflected in all the many causes she undertook. We are grateful for the legacy she has left us and for people like Shania Smith-Archer, who are continuing in her footsteps. I am honoured to share the stage with her son, Troy and am pleased to see several of her relatives in the audience including her Daughter Nadjan.

The return of events such as these in the BVI are signs of healthy recovery for our economy and for our business sector. It is a sign that we are at a pivotal juncture in regard to business development and we must push forward. As the Minister responsible for Financial Services Labour and Trade, it has been my Ministry’s priority to facilitate business development and help to grow our economy.

Government has made it a priority that we will re-establish the National Business Bureau to support business development in the coming year. The National Business Bureau will support you in many ways including making representations to banks and other institutions as without the finances to support your business you cannot progress. My government colleagues and I are in discussions about other forms of assistance.

We understand that financial institutions have responsibilities to shareholders and depositors, but our colleagues in the banking sector would agree that financing is critical to business development and growth. And a more robust and active economy in turn benefits the same financial institutions. Your support of our businesses creates customers who are empowered to participate in the economy.

I was really encouraged at a recent meeting with our banks association to learn of the variety of support available to our businesses. Innovation and greater support from financial institutions to businesses translates into an investment into our economy, building resilience at the same time.

The financial institutions are a part of our business community. So when I say we need all hands on deck working together, it includes the financial institutions as well. Let us put our heads together and help each other.

Today I can announce that I will be convening a joint meeting with the Trade Department, the Banks and the Chamber of Commerce, before the end of this year, to discuss a collaborative effort to create a new approach to integrate support for our business sector. I expect to thereafter convene a confab with the Trade Department, the Banks, the Chamber and with our businesses large and small.

Before I close, I want to use this opportunity to call on our aspiring entrepreneurs of the Virgin Islands, in an economy such as this, it is an opportune time to plant the seed that is your business idea. The BVI economy provides the opportunity for great expansion and it is look to you to get started.  Government is committed to assisting you in every way possible

In closing, let me thank and congratulate the BVI Chamber of Commerce and its sponsors for bringing back the Buy BVI Trade Expo and for persevering to find a creative solution when inclement weather interfered with their original plans.

Again let me congratulate all our exhibitors, I wish you all success in your endeavors. I am sorry that I cannot visit every exhibitor today but I shall return tomorrow to see the rest of the Show.

To all the businesses in the BVI economy, I want to assure you of the Government’s commitment to doing all that we can to help your businesses grow and succeed. And I commend your perseverance and resilience.

Now, I take this opportunity to declare the BUY BVI Trade Show open.

Do have an enjoyable day and a successful Buy BVI Trade Expo 2023. I thank you.