In 2018, remittances amounting to 131.8 million East Caribbean dollars (XCD) were sent to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) by persons outside the country. The largest portion – $53.1 million came from the United States, with Canada sending $23.5 million, the United Kingdom – $11.5 million and other countries – $43.7 million.
The vast majority of these remittances originate from Vincentians who have migrated to other countries in search of a “better life” and who feel a sense of responsibility toward those left behind.
The importance of this injection of almost XCD$132 million into the local economy in 2018 cannot be gainsaid and neither should the contribution of Vincentians in the Diaspora whose hard work make the remittances possible.
Tomorrow is May 1, known as Workers’ Day or Labour Day.
This year, we wish to look outwards and acknowledge the contribution of Vincentians in the Diaspora to the local economy and our people, and to focus on the growth of another type of remittance, which is becoming increasingly important to our economy.
The value of this new type of remittance, known as knowledge remittances, is harder to quantify than financial remittances. It involves the growing number of immigrant professionals who have been sharing their time and expertise with individuals, groups and businesses back home.
The number of Vincentians here at home who have accessed tertiary level education continues to grow, and so too has the number of them who must, on graduation, create employment for themselves. It is for this demographic that knowledge remittances is most valuable. Knowledge remittances connect successful professionals to aspiring workers who share their roots. Knowledge remittances make it possible for the local persons to make connections with potential investors or to get hired by overseas companies and work from their home countries, thus helping to stem the brain drain.
However, without guidance, our bright young graduates cannot seize the global opportunities that exist. The mentorship and expertise provided by the Vincentian Diaspora help our people to navigate the highways and byways of the global employment markets.
Already, there are examples of this type of connection bearing fruit, but they are still too few in number. We need to formalize our outreach to Vincentians overseas, connecting them with valuable human resource here on the ground, while providing our young people with access to global opportunities that would not normally come their way.