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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.

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.

Project Finance Coordinator: Sandra Smith

With over twenty-five years executive management experience, Sandra Smith brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of finance, business development and operational effectiveness to Compete Caribbean. Sandra has held senior finance and operations roles in diverse industries including retail, technology, telecommunications and oil and gas. She has been instrumental in the restructuring of existing organizations to improve efficiency. In addition, she has developed and led the Finance and Administrative functions in start-up organizations. Sandra is a Chartered Accountant and a graduate of the Executive MBA program at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

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.

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.

Business Climate Reforms Coordinator: Tara Lisa Persaud

Tara Lisa has worked in the field of international development in the Caribbean for the past 12 years, concentrating on international relations, development policy, multi-lateral institutions, and knowledge management. Prior to Compete Caribbean, she led the policy and negotiations team for Trinidad and Tobago when that country hosted both the V Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2009. She has also worked at the United Nations Development Programme and undertaken assignments for the United Nations Children’s Fund, the UN Population Fund, the IDB, and the University of the West Indies. Tara Lisa holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and earned a Masters Degree in International Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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: 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.

Enterprise Innovation Coordinator: Celene Cleland-Gomez

Prior to joining Compete Caribbean, Celene was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of two managing partners of Launchpad Consulting; development consultants with a focus on International Trade and Management. As a consultant she’s worked extensively with both the local and regional (Caribbean) private and public sectors and across industry sectors on a variety of management, international trade and general policy related initiatives. She’s also served in the capacity of CEO for the Government of Belize, in several senior management positions for Belize Telecommunications Limited including Human Resources Manager and Manager for Marketing and Public Relations, and as an adjunct lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences at the University of Belize; most recently as the lecturer in Tourism Policy. Celene holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and dual Master degrees in International Economic Law and Organizational Management. She is a Founding Fellow of the Katalyst Institute for Public Policy and Research in Belize, and holds a Human Resource Generalist Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the United States. In addition to her training and experience, Celene brings energy and a passion to serve and meaningfully contribute to the development of the Caribbean.

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.

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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