Startups in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were initially inhabited by Island Caribs. Later Garifuna (fugitive African slaves) arrived to Vincents from Barbados, Saint Lucia and Grenada. In 1627 those islands were claimed by English settlers. After that Vincents acquired the worldwide notoriety as a refuge for outlaws.

French and English fleets fought for dominance in this area for more than 200 years. In 1783, in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, Britain occupied Vincents. In 18th century British order had been challenged numerous times by Black Caribs’ revolts. However, Vincents gained its independence only in 1979 (27 October).

Vincents is a part of Commonwealth and has traditional Westminster two-party system. Unicameral House of Assembly consists of 21 seats. Centrally appointed senators occupy 6 of them. The rest belong to democratically elected delegates. Unity Labor Party (left) currently has a majority (8 seats, 51% of 15 seats) in the Assembly. The opposition — centrist New Democratic Party — has 7 seats.

Prior to mid-1980th left-leaning political parties had held the majority in the Assembly. However, the rising demand for bananas in 1990th drastically improved economic conditions on Vincents and newly formed middle-class moved islands political discourse to the center.

Growing competition from part of big Central American exporters led to gradual decline of banana production in Vincents. Today tourism and related industries (such as hospitality, film production and, even, inflatable pleasure crafts manufacturing) play crucial role in Vincents economy. In 2003 Pirates of Caribbean was staged in Vincents.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines tiny size, small population and agricultural industry orientated economy present unfavorable starting conditions for high-tech businesses. Added to that are geographical isolation and shortage of qualified personnel which negatively affect growth perspectives of local startups. At the same time, fast growing tourist sector may present some limited opportunities for daring hi-tech founders.

Business Notes for Startups Founders:

  • political climate: moderately friendly;
  • economic climate: not friendly;
  • regions to focus: locally;
  • industries to focus: e-services, FinTech;
  • major limitations: geographical isolation, agriculture industry (banana production) orientated economy, sluggish GDP growth rate (3%), high administrative barriers to SME, fixed Internet penetration rate at about 50%, shortage of qualified workforce, population is barely exceeding 100,000;
  • stimulus: fast growing tourism industry, middle-income population (per-capita $7,000), low competition;
  • opportunities: to build an e-services business aimed at local niche markets.