Pacesetters: how the Caribbean is creating opportunity out of adversity

Author: Micha Emmett

Amid one of the most challenging hurricane seasons the world has ever faced, hurricanes Maria and Irma also created distinct ripples through the citizenship by investment industry, causing many countries to re-evaluate their approach and accordingly adjust to the new needs of their respective communities. The Commonwealth of Dominica, and the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, were among a number of island-nations impacted by the adverse weather. But adversity brought with it opportunity, and both countries embraced the chance to introduce new elements to their citizenship by investment programmes and re-assert their reputation as pace-setters in the industry.

St Kitts and Nevis’ Citizenship by Investment Programme responded quickly to the chaos caused by the adverse weather events, creating an opportunity to rise above the challenges. A demonstration of innovation, the Programme swiftly introduced the Hurricane Relief Fund – a temporary funding module to ensure the country received direct foreign investment to protect its paradise. Once again exemplifying their reputation as the Platinum Standard in the industry, this forward-thinking approach was applauded on an international scale. Shortly after the inception of the new fund, the Programme was awarded the World’s Most Innovative Investment Immigration Programme at the Global Citizen Awards Ceremony in Russia.

That St Kitts and Nevis was quick to respond to a pressing need to assure its future speaks volumes about the country’s ability to think about the big picture and make adjustments accordingly. As pioneers, the Programme identified a need for economic citizenship well before the industry materialised. The Hurricane Relief Fund gets to the very root of the win-win philosophy, engaging the market as if to say “an investment in your future is one in ours.” While protecting the future of their paradise, they are simultaneously providing a sanctuary to those who require one. Available strictly over a period of six months, the Hurricane Relief Fund has allowed foreign investment to flow directly into improving roads and buildings, as well as repairing damage sustained in the agricultural sector.

At the frontline of last year’s weather event, the Commonwealth of Dominica captured the hearts and minds of the world during its response to Hurricane Maria. Images of people working together to support the weak, rebuild communities, and restore hope flooded the media. The Citizenship by Investment Unit (CBIU) was part of this picture – back up and running, and processing applications to bring much-needed funds to Dominica within a week of the event. The camaraderie and compassion of the country, as well as of the CBIU, was on display to the world. To better encapsulate these two attributes to the prospective applicant for Dominican citizenship, the Unit has now launched the ‘Global Community’ – a banner that better embodies the warmth and inclusivity of the island and its people.

Dominica’s Global Community transcends the traditional framework of economic citizenship, encouraging those who seek a second citizenship to feel that they belong to an international network of Dominicans, regardless of geography. After all, those seeking second citizenship share similar motivations for doing so. They are looking for security and a way of life that is missing in their country of origin – an environment that offers opportunity for growth, development, and business.

Similar to the industry’s legacy programme in St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme has a long and trusted track record of delivery. Like the people of Dominica, the Programme is resilient and resourceful in approach. From a practical standpoint, this has translated to the Unit adopting an online case management system to better process applications. It has also meant a streamlining of procedures and an intensification of applicant scrutiny by the constant improvement of its due diligence measures. Dominica is proud of its Global Community, and, to safeguard its reputation, it has prioritised its screening procedures, ensuring that only genuine applicants who fit the profile of what Dominica’s Global Community represents, need apply.

Though very different approaches, both Dominica, and St Kitts and Nevis have demonstrated a resolve to conquer the chaos and destruction caused by last year’s hurricane events, and respond in a way that brings new dimensions to the economic citizenship industry. With the inception of Dominica’s Global Community, and St Kitts and Nevis’ Hurricane Relief Fund, both programmes have found intelligent solutions to complex problems. And like the discerning applicant who is challenged by the limitations of their birthplace, they too are finding ways to turn adversity into opportunity.

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