CAF doubles its Caribbean shareholder countries, providing rapid access to grant funding and investments

April 17, 2024

Continuing to deepen its engagement with CARICOM countries, CAF – Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean – convened a meeting with CARICOM Ministers of Finance during the WB-IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC to advance the process for incorporating its three new Caribbean shareholder countries – Bahamas, Dominica and Grenada – into the financial institution.

CAF doubles its Caribbean shareholder countries

At its recent Board of Directors Meeting in March 2024, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, the decision was taken to allocate shares to three CARICOM countries, doubling the number of English-speaking Caribbean members in CAF.  Trinidad and Tobago was the first CARICOM country to join CAF in 1994, some thirty years ago, followed by Jamaica in 1994 and Barbados in 2014.  CAF is now moving to add 3 more Caribbean countries to its existing 21 country membership, which will bring CAF closer to consolidating its position as the development bank with the greatest presence in the region.  This will translate into strengthened support for regional integration, blue and green growth as well as sustainable and inclusive development projects.

Additionally, in 2023, the Board of Directors of CAF approved a new CARICOM facility to promote economic and social development in CARICOM countries, especially in support ofclean energy, sustainable tourism and food security, among others. This facility provides grant funding for pre-investment projects, technology and knowledge transfer, institutional strengthening, disaster risk reduction, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, productive sectors, cultural and creative industries and the preservation of the historical heritage.

“We are not merely focused on expansion, we are focused on providing agile and innovative development financing solutions to as many countries in the region as possible. Following the pandemic, we recognized the urgent need to stimulate increased economic activity and social development in the region and our Board approved the largest capitalization in the history of CAF (USD 7 billion).  Because of our commitment to channeling some of these investment to the Caribbean, in 2023, our Board also approved an innovative Facility to provide grant funding for CARICOM countries that are not members of CAF.  Now, as we move forward with the incorporation process for Bahamas, Dominica and Grenada, we will dedicate additional grant resources to boost project preparation in our 3 new shareholder countries”, said Sergio Díaz-Granados, Executive President of CAF.

Starting in 1970 as a bank created by 6 Andean countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela), CAF has since expanded its shareholder base to include 21 shareholder countries and 13 private banks.  With an asset base of over US$53 billion and a project portfolio exceeding US$34 billion, CAF is undeniably one of the leading sources of multilateral financing in the region.  Following the establishment of a Regional Office for the Caribbean based in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2022, CAF has made deliberate strides in bringing the English-speaking Caribbean and its Latin American neighbors closer.

During the meeting with the CARICOM Ministers of Finance, CAF’s Regional Manager for the Caribbean, Dr. Stacy Richards-Kennedy, highlighted the transformational role CAF is playing in the region by leveraging its financing, knowledge and networks and serving as a catalyst for home-grown regional development solutions across the global South.  Dr. Richards-Kennedy underscored that “CAF is more than a bank; it serves also as a bridge to strengthen the relations and inter-cultural understanding between Latin America and the Caribbean.  Through our various development projects and initiatives, CAF’s approach to development financing complements the work being done by other development partners and, in so doing, contributes to strengthening development cooperation, functional integration and regional solidarity. We also recognize the vulnerabilities and unique needs of Caribbean islands and small states, and we are committed to being flexible and agile in our support for their respective development priorities”.

In extending her congratulations to CAF and the new shareholder countries, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Barbados, the Honourable Mia Mottley, emphasized the important role that CAF has been playing in the Caribbean, "The fact that the bank changed its name to signify that is not only a bank of Latin America but also a bank of the Caribbean meant that you needed to see this happen. Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica were in before and we are now seeing more countries from the Eastern Caribbean coming because CAF has had an approach as a development bank that has truly seen people rather than just being above the conditionalities, which very often make the process of development and lending very complex. All of us who have experience working with CAF recognize this", said Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Expressing his satisfaction with the incorporation process, the Honourable Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas stated that "We're very, very happy to have signed these agreements to become officially a member of CAF. CAF has a very good reputation as a development partner amongst countries who have joined previously. And so, the vision of CAF in improving the life of the people of Latin America and the Caribbean aligns very well with the mission of our government to improve the life of our citizens through investment in their security, in their education, in their health and their social security. So, we look forward to working with CAF as development partners as we move forward”.

Similarly, Minister of Finance for Grenada, the Honourable Dennis Cornwall, affirmed his enthusiasm for the deepening partnership between Grenada and CAF explaining that "the signing of the agreement to become a shareholder in CAF is a very important stance that the government and people of Grenada have taken today. It will allow us to be able to participate in the funding arrangement with CAF and be able to fund a lot of the development projects that we have to do….we believe that CAF is a new addition and could contribute largely to our development in Grenada.”