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Compete Caribbean is a private sector development program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SME) development activities in the Caribbean region. The program, jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Government of Canada, supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries. The program’s estimated value is US$40.0 million, of which DFID and the Government of Canada contributed US$32.55 million. Projects in the OECS countries are implemented in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.


  • Increased consensus and focus on strategic interventions to promote private sector development
  • An improved enabling environment for business development, trade and integration
  • Enhanced capacity of clusters and firms to increase productivity and to sustainably compete in national, regional and global markets

The Program Advisory Group

Interamerican Development Bank (IDB)

José Miguel Benavente
Chairman of the PAG and Chief of the Competitiveness, Technology, and Innovation Division (IDB)

Therese Turner-Jones
General Manager, Caribbean Country Department (IDB)

Matias Bendersky
Unit Chief, Partnership and Resource Mobilization, Office of Outreach and Partnerships (IDB)
Department for International Development (DFID)

Colleen Wainwright
Head, DFID Caribbean
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)

Daniel Best
Director of Projects


The Executive Committee

Sylvia Dohnert (Chair)
Lead Private Sector Development Senior Specialist
Executive Director of Compete Caribbean

Juan Carlos De la Hoz Vinas
Country Representative for Barbados
Inter-American Development Bank

Claudia Stevenson
Private Sector Development Senior Specialist
Inter-American Development Bank

Jaiwattie Anganu
Financial Markets Senior Specialist
Inter-American Development Bank

Winsome Leslie
FOMIN/MIF Lead Specialist
Inter-American Development Bank

Program Coordination Unit

Executive Director: Sylvia Dohnert

Venezuelan Sylvia Dohnert joined the Compete Caribbean team as its new Executive Director from November 16, 2012. Sylvia has a Ph.D. in Economic Development and Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an MA in Public Policy from Tufts University and a BS in Systems Engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana de Venezuela. She has extensive experience working knowledge of industrial policy and cluster development and has previously worked at the IDB as a Consultant on competitiveness and innovation programs. Specializing in conceptualizing and designing government policy and/or projects that will support private sector development, Sylvia is expected to be a major asset to Compete Caribbean whose primary function and focus is private sector development in the Caribbean. Particularly interested in how to stimulate entrepreneurship and enhance local firms’ competitiveness in the global economy, she posseses a wealth of work experience in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Guyana. Her specialties include export development, supplier relations, inter-firm cooperation, informality and business associations. Sylvia is based in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Productivity & Innovation in Firms Coordinator: Annie Bertrand

Annie Bertrand is a management consultant and social entrepreneur, building on 12 years of business and international development experiences in over 65 countries. Before starting her MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2004, Bertrand worked for Deloitte Consulting to improve the performance of multinational companies. She then transitioned to emerging markets to address social issues using best practices in entrepreneurship and economic development. Most recently, Bertrand has been involved with the Trident Angels investor network to foster employments by increasing access to finance for entrepreneurs. Born in Montreal (Canada), she has been living in Barbados for 10 years and was elected Director of Community Services for the Rotary Club of Barbados in 2015.

Business and Innovation Climate Coordinator: Valarie Pilgrim

A national of Trinidad and Tobago, Valarie Pilgrim, joined the Compete Caribbean team in April 2017. She holds an MBA from the University of Bath, United Kingdom and a BSc in Sciences from the University of the West Indies. Valarie has extensive experience across the programme management cycle – strategic planning, project design, monitoring and evaluation to programme evaluation. Most of her career has been focused on improving the productivity and competitiveness of private sector enterprises either within the private sector, public sector or through the implementation of development programmes. She has either coordinated or served as a team member for various initiatives aimed at creating a more enabling business environment through policy, regulatory and institutional reforms and improvements to the trade facilitation infrastructure. Her main areas of interest are strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems, integrating gender and social equality into private sector development; making small size an asset in private sector and economic development; and regional collaboration and competitiveness. Valarie was recently responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund) which was financed by DfID and executed by Caribbean Development Bank.

Communications Officer: Karen Mahy

Karen brings over 20 years’ experience in mass communications to the team and was most recently communications consultant for Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM) In Dominica.Karen holds an Honors Post-Graduate Diploma in Mass Communication Studies from the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She has held high level positions with local and regional companies in Barbados, Suriname, Dominica and St. Vincent and also has extensive communications and marketing experience throughout the OECS.

Operations Coordinator: Alejandro Carrion

Alejandro Carrion joined Compete Caribbean after working at the Office of the Regional Economic Advisor at the IDB’s country department for Central America, Mexico, Belize and Dominican Republic where he worked on regional economic analysis and surveillance. Prior to working at the IDB, Alejandro spent four years at the International Monetary Fund’s Western Hemisphere Department, where he initially was a part of the country teams of Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Panama, and later he joined the Regional Studies division which produces the Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for Latin America and the Caribbean. Alejandro has also worked at the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Emerging Markets Policy Department and at the Americas team in the Department of Political Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat in New York. Alejandro is a citizen of Ecuador and Uruguay, and was born in Lima, Peru. He holds an M.A in International Economics and Latin American Studies with a specialization in Emerging Markets from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington DC.

Financial Coordinator: Russell Franklyn

Prior to joining Compete Caribbean, Russell was the Fiduciary Consultant in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB’s) Operations Financial Management and Procurement Services Office (FMP) and was assigned to the IDB Barbados Country Office. Having previously worked for the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) as the Manager, Finance & Operations, he has in-depth knowledge of the Caribbean Region, its organs and institutions. This assignment entailed improving Regional Quality Infrastructure to support the competitiveness of the region through the successful management of several innovative projects with high stakeholder complexity. Russell is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Project Management Professional (PMP) and a Certified Personnel in Procurement at the IDB.

Project Development Officer: Stefano Pereira

Stefano PereiraStefano Pereira manages the daily project tasks of the Cluster Initiative Window. Stefano has contributed to relevant research in the Caribbean region related to green economics, international trade, productivity and private sector development. His most recent work focuses on Green exports opportunities in the Caribbean and was featured at the Sustainable Futures for Climate Change conference in Finland. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons.) in Economics from the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill.

Financial Administration Support: Valerie Williams

Valerie offers valuable support to the Finance Department with a focus on financial data capture, reporting, review and analysis. This is a natural progression with her background in accounting, internal/external audit and compliance. Valerie has worked in both the public and private sectors, including 12 combined years in the finance, commercial banking and off-shore banking arenas.

Project Development Officer: Wayne Elliott

Wayne is a Barbadian national who recently completed a Bachelors of Science Degree majoring in Economics and Mathematics at the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill). He shares many passions for youth, nature and the economy. As such, he is heavily involved in community-based programs and constantly seeks to improve the livelihoods of marginalized subsets in his society. Over the last three years, he has been involved in empirical research and was able to complete a number of academic research papers. This involvement has led to him developing a keen interest in issues related to Financial Management, Climate Change, Sustainable Development, Economic-Environmental Valuations and Private Sector Development.

Project Development Officer – Innovation Coordinator: Karen Drayton

Karen is a Trinidadian and Barbadian national. She holds a Master of Science Degree in International Management. Karen held previous positions in areas such as Strategic Projects, Sales & Marketing and Tourism Development. She brings with her an immense passion for International Business and Sustainable Development.

Project Development Officer: Tamara Gibson

Life and doing business in the Caribbean is unique and Tamara keeps that in mind as she works to support regional firms in boosting both their level of competitiveness and innovation. As Project Development Officer, Tamara is dedicated to promoting and facilitating Compete’s enhancement initiatives for sustainable growth in the private sector. She executes the portfolio for Clusters, Direct Support to Firms, Technology Extension Services and Entrepreneurship. Coming from a background in academia and the public sector, Tamara understands the diverse priorities of the stakeholders seated at the core of regional development. She is passionate about assisting those stakeholders in overcoming barriers and in initiating a cycle of effective communication and cooperation that will allow the market knowledge of the private sector to be combined with research and technology from academia and the policy frameworks of government. Tamara graduated from the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor in Education and Linguistics (Hons.) and a Master degree in Testing, Measurement & Evaluation.

Administrative Assistant: Shameka Cox

Shameka is currently completing a B.Sc. in Accounting and Finance at The University of the West Indies. She holds an Associate’s Degree in Office Administration and Management and has also expanded her knowledge to Architectural Designs with a Diploma in Computer Aided Drawing. With skills in various software packages, time management and varied experience in Accounting, Administration and Customer Service, Shameka wishes to add value and efficiency to the Program by offering her specialised abilities to the team.

Operations Senior Associate: Leanne Cumberbatch

Leanne is an Operations Senior Associate in the Barbados Country Office at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of Compete Caribbean projects. Previously she was a consultant with the Banks’ Multilateral Investment Fund. Prior to joining the IDB, she worked at Caribbean Financial Services Corporation as a Project Analyst. Leanne has a Masters degree in the Management & Implementation of Development Projects from the University of Manchester, UK.

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