Major economic challenges

Economic survival is the biggest challenge, says Kalinago Chief Garnette Joseph

Man sells 10 mangos on roadside for $2 EC or about $0.74 CAD  (Photo by Ruane Remy)

“How do we survive?” asks Kalinago Chief Garnette Joseph. He believes economic survival for Kalinago people a whole is the biggest challenge.  He sees economic well-being as tied to an individual’s ability to gain access to credit for the financing of personal or community development projects. So community officials are looking for ways to gain access to credit for Kalinago people. They are also predicting a brain drain in the near future when graduates studying abroad return home to a tough job market and less opportunity to obtain credit to start their own ventures. It is difficult to remain a distinct population if the populace decreases as individuals seek opportunities elsewhere.

Finance and access to credit

Other Dominicans can use their land as collateral when seeking a loan. Since Kalinago land is communally owned, territory residents cannot use it to do the same. Not all islanders own land, so possessing other assets or being settled in a job are other ways of gaining access to credit. Chief Joseph hopes for the creation of a local credit union or a Kalinago development corporation for individuals to finance projects within the territory. Studies have been conducted to asses the feasibility of these plans, but nothing has been set in motion yet.

Employing new graduates 

Ashton Graneau, Minister for Carib Affairs, warns that students from the community who have been sent overseas to be educated may come back and face a lack of suitable employment. A brain drain is one scenario, but with the world economy as it stands in 2012 and possibly the near future, jobs overseas may also be hard to come by also. Could there be a new class of educated, unemployed youth in Dominica?

Former Kalinago Chief Irvince Auguiste says that these graduates will have less ability to finance any business ventures because their parents could still be paying off the loans that sent them to school. The only solution so far is for graduates to create new ventures to employ themselves and possibly others.


Watch below to hear from the Carib affairs minister and Kalinago council members

Chief Garnette Joseph speaks on economic survival, the problem of access to credit and building on communally owned land.

Minister for Carib Affairs Ashton Graneau discusses alternative sources of collateral when communally owned land cannot be used as such. He then voices concerns of a future brain drain and its consequences when students return from abroad.

Former chief Irvince Auguiste calls on government to work with the Kalinago people to set up funds with the help of countries like Venezuela and China and to set up the necessary boards to assist in development programs, especially for students returning from overseas.


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