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Pleion Group Inc. and Upturn Funds Initiatives Supporting Caribbean Integration and Capacity Building.

Press Release: July 22, 2023



Ambassador Dr. Andre Thomas with Members of Cabinet

Since the establishment of Pleion Group Inc. and Upturn Funds Caribbean in 2021, both organizations have been playing a critical role in the formulation of regional initiatives that support Caribbean integration. The vision of the integration of the Caribbean has been at the forefront of CARICOM and its member states since 1973 with the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas creating the Common Market 50 years ago, and in 2001with the revised treaty which sought to expand regional integration even further with the aim of creating a Single Market and Economy.


According to a 2011 report conducted by the UWI Institute of International Relations (IIR), Caribbean integration has faced many hurdles; and progress, in terms of Integration has been slow. Among the many challenges, issues and opportunities highlighted in the report, it proffered that the private sector must organize itself more effectively at the regional level if it is to influence and improve the integration process. However, the IIR report revealed that regional integration does not figure highly on the agenda of many sections of the Caribbean private sector for a number of reasons[1].


Of significance, Pleion Group Inc and Upturn Funds Caribbean corporate values resonate with that of CARICOM where it is noted that one of its objectives [2]is to build a sustainable Community with an acceptable quality of life, with people at the centre of all our development policies, strategies, and initiatives. The overarching mission of the Barbados-headquartered companies, Pleion Group Inc. and Upturn Funds Caribbean, its venture capital arm, is to build the economies of the nations in which it operates in a way that integrates the Caribbean while adding social value to people and driving the transfer of wealth to the working class.


In their short existence Pleion Group Inc. and Upturn Funds Caribbean have demonstrated its commitment to Caribbean integration through the spearheading of a number of initiatives that will significantly impact the trajectory of regional integration whilst significantly contributing to efforts of the long-standing vision of CARICOM and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy both at the macro and socio-economic levels.


Founder and Chairman Ambassador Dr. Andre Thomas leads the charge of a number of these sector initiatives, steering both governmental and private sector missions in a number of Caribbean nations.



ARUBA AGRICULTURE MISSION

With virtually no agriculture sector, the small island of Aruba must import all of its food to sustain local consumption and that of over 1.7 million visitors annually to its shores.  This has led to an annual import bill of approximately [3] $208 million in agricultural and related products, most of which (72 percent) were consumer-oriented agricultural products, according to a USDA Foreign agriculture service GAIN report in 2018.  Other sources report this number to be $2.23million in meat and vegetable imports.


Being highly dependent on the tourism sector, Aruba susceptibility to world events that disrupt tourist activity, such as with the global pandemic, has placed the priority of diversification of the economy specifically within the agriculture sector at the forefront of Aruba government policy.


Ambassador Thomas’ mission to Aruba included the facilitation of key meetings with Prime Minister Croes, key government officials and various stakeholders within the private sector to discuss the necessary steps towards the establishment and strategic mapping for the creation of an Agri-industry in Aruba. With preliminary groundwork undertaken with the Agro-Brokerage Caribbean, the Farmland Initiatives, and the proposed utilization of 46-acres of arable farmland in Guyana to support crop production supply to Aruba, will significantly contribute to food security and the reduction of Aruba’s food import bill, creation of local jobs for socio economic sustainability and trade facilitation among the two Caribbean nations.


Ambassador Thomas with Members of Cabinet


TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS AFFORDABLE HOMES MISSION

The Turks and Caicos Islands announced its national housing policy on July 27th to address the current housing shortage crisis. With home ownership at a mere 11%, the demand for affordable housing has drastically increased in recent years. The government of Turks and Caicos has engaged the support of Pleion Group Inc. to address the issue of affordable and quality housing solutions for the Caribbean nation where 1000 homes consisting of 500 single family units and 500 condos will be built.



Ambassador Thomas with Members of Cabinet
H. E. Ambassador Dr. Thomas with Premier of TCI Dr. Charles W. Misick


GUYANA WOOD INDUSTRY SUSTAINABILITY AND CAPACITY BUILDING MISSION


Pleion Group Inc. has substantial initiatives within Guyana as it relates to the building of capacity in a number of sectors, notably, the development of the wood industry for the export market. Through partnership will the umbrella body of the loggers’ societies, Chairman and Founder of Pleion Group, Ambassador Dr. Andre Thomas has provided opportunity for the building of capacity in the wood industry in Guyana.


Currently, Guyana export markets are limited, due to the fact that many loggers provide only for local consumption mainly because of the inability to access international markets. This will lend towards finances being circulated in the community and by extension community development, also providing continuous work thereby increasing their prospects of wealth participation. This initiative will also lend towards development of downstream added value products which contribute in a significant way to the GDP of the nation relative to the forest sector. With capacity building opportunities, Pleion Wood will expose loggers to training to enhance their skills and knowledge in the industry.


Wood stream Inc. the export arm of the Pleion Group will focus on developing new export markets focusing on the creation of a robust supply chain by combining multiple logging societies thereby creating a favorable market option for harvested logs of specific varieties. In addition, Woodstream will also be developing the export market for lesser-known varieties which places local loggers in a position that they can earn more. With increased logging capabilities, Pleion Group will improve compliance among the local loggers in regard to environmental responsibility and sustainable forest management guidelines.


The overarching goal for Woodstream is to work in alignment with the national goals of building capacity within the forestry industry, creating new markets and supporting proper forestry management. Through this process and the relationships and interactions, the outlook is the ability to build social and financial capita.


By Jennifer Highland (Upturn Funds – Chief Communications Officer)

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