A trade mission, which aims to establish a direct exporting route from Scotland to Barbados and highlight investment opportunities, took place between 20th and 25th November to the Caribbean island.

Bringing together a range of delegates from sectors including finance, education, training, hospitality and tourism, the mission aims to highlight the immense trading and investment opportunities available in Barbados, which can also act as a gateway to markets in the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Organised by the Renfrewshire Business Network in collaboration with Invest Barbados (Barbados’ national investment promotion agency) and Department for International Trade Scotland, the mission seeks to promote the considerable opportunities and highlight the successes of Scottish companies who have invested on the island.

Famed as a popular tourism destination and home of global pop star Rihanna, Barbados offers a warm and welcoming investment climate. The island boasts ambitions to become a “digitally-enabled nation” and is well on track to achieving the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030, delivering a carbon-net-neutral target.

Investment opportunities include niche manufacturing, global banking, information and computer technology (ICT), FinTech, global education, food and drink, wealth management, insurance, renewable energy, medicinal cannabis and medical tourism, among others that are both traditional and emerging.

Additionally, the innovative and highly successful 12-month ‘Welcome Stamp’, which enables individuals to stay and work remotely on the island without changing their tax residency, has been extended and remains attractive to digital nomads in Europe.

Kaye-Anne Greenidge, CEO of Invest Barbados, said: “We are delighted to be co-hosting and being the main sponsors for this event. Scotland enjoys extensive connections with Barbados, and we hope that this trade mission will support the establishment of a direct exporting route and highlight the immense business opportunities available.

“In addition to a fabulous climate, which supports an enviable quality of life, the island boasts a welcoming investment climate, with one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the world, and provides a stable political and economic environment.”

Jo Smith of the Renfrewshire Business Network added that: “Renfrewshire Business Network (RBN) was established in 2012 to encourage businesses to connect and grow, so the Trade Mission is an ideal fit with this ethos. Scotland has many links with Barbados, such as the barrels in the Mount Gay distillery coming from Islay; a shared patron saint in St Andrew, and their beautiful Scotland District.

“RBN members are already setting up in Barbados, and I’m looking forward to seeing further opportunities for business growth there. The support of Invest Barbados and the DIT has been invaluable.”

One such individual going is Robin Prior, Managing Director of Abergower. The company, which has offices across the UK including Edinburgh and Glasgow, offers a range of professional document scanning, document digitisation services and digital filing services.

Robin said: “Abergower is constantly innovating. We began as a business that offered complex digitisation of any documents, working with organisations ranging from government departments to private companies. By completing the trade mission last year, we were able to see that Barbados could take full advantage of considerable expertise we have in converting paper-based documents to searchable digital content.

“On this business mission, we will be promoting our more recent businesses, Abergower 3D and Abergower Dental. Through this we hope to revolutionise digital dentistry in Barbados through providing 3D printers and scanners, and promote the idea of dental tourism.

“In addition to employing local people, thereby benefitting the economy, we are also exploring the potential to use this as a base to expand further into the beautiful Caribbean.”

A company whose involvement in a previous trade mission has led to major success is Aberdeen-based OGV Taprooms.

The company was developed by the team at OGV Energy, a well-established media group within the energy industry. OGV Energy discovered a variety of craft beers and breweries across the world, sparking a desire to create their own brand of carefully crafted beers back home, in Aberdeen, where they also have a bar.

Kenny Dooley, Director of OGV Taprooms, said: “In addition to our bar in Aberdeen, we currently operate a bar on the lovely island of Barbados at El Sueño. The local market has proven a fantastic opportunity, and it is clear that there is much affection for Scotland from Bajans. We have been inspired to such an extent that over the next few years our goal is to expand into five new locations across the Caribbean, with Barbados very much acting as the gateway to achieving this.

“We attended last year’s trade mission and had a very positive experience, and I would definitely recommend it to other businesses. While our initial bar location fell through, we were able to make several follow up trips to Barbados and we eventually managed to find a location in El Sueño that was ultimately a better option.

“My colleague Emma will be going to Barbados to showcase our bar, with a cocktail experience evening for those on the upcoming mission. This will be hosted by the British High Commission.

“We have received ongoing support from Invest Barbados and I met with members of the team recently. They’ve been unbelievably helpful from offering guidance on solicitors, to market information on the type of fees and pricing to expect in Barbados. The island provides a superb investment environment and is incredibly welcoming and open to new opportunities.”

Email: sthomas@investbarbados.org and visit investbarbados.org for full details.