Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has urged CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank to follow through in spreading the entrepreneurial culture to all sectors of society by leading the charge to facilitate access to capital.

Mr. Stuart made the comments last evening as the Bank???s Headquarters Building at Warrens, St. Michael, was named after its Executive Chairman, Michael Mansoor.

While delivering the feature address, he said: ???Research by many agencies involved in supporting micro and small business enterprise shows that a major barrier to establishing a viable business is inadequate seed funding. Even with appropriate education and training, young entrepreneurs are forced to start businesses which are grossly undercapitalised.

???I appeal to you to join Governments and a range of business development agencies across the region to help release the creative energy of our people to diversify and stimulate our economies. There is no time like the present to demonstrate what Caribbean people can do.???

The Prime Minister said a careful study of the Bank???s strategies during the past 10 years showed a commitment to broadening and deepening the entrepreneurial pool to help democratise and grow the economies of the region. ???The asperities of recessions have not infrequently been ameliorated by the multiplicity of innovations that spring from the creativity of ordinary people,??? he stressed.

Therefore, he stated, everything should be done to ensure the Michael Mansoor Building became the symbol of the entrepreneurial revolution that was waiting to take place in the region.

Mr. Stuart expressed the view that CIBC FirstCaribbean was the product of three powerful cultural forces that converged in 2002 to create a truly Caribbean institution, willing and able to take on the world. He pointed out that the Caribbean Integration Movement, which has been experiencing increasing success, was the third force.

Emphasising his commitment to regional integration, he proffered the view that the countries must unite if they were to survive and prosper in a globalised world which was changing rapidly.

???The benefits of integration ??? from economies of scale and mutual protection, to the appreciation of racial, cultural and social diversity ??? are too important to be left to chance. It is for these reasons that, despite the occasional set-backs, the countries of the region have moved towards deeper and wider integration. Since the gaining of universal adult suffrage in the 1950???s, the people of the Caribbean have striven to determine their future as a united social, economic and political entity, committed to reflecting the uniqueness of our Caribbean civilisation,??? he maintained.

He argued, however, that the noble goals of the Caribbean Integration Movement could only be achieved with the establishment of efficient and effective institutions, of which there was already a glittering array.

The Prime Minister noted that under the leadership of Michael Mansoor, CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank had established itself as an outstanding leader in the field and had contributed, not only to the economies of the region, but also to the development of the societies in which it operates.

Mr. Stuart described Mr. Mansoor as ???a truly Caribbean man who embodied the spirit of unity and empowerment that characterise the modern Caribbean???.

Mr. Mansoor is a chartered accountant, who served as an Independent Senator in his native Trinidad and Tobago from 1987 to 1995. He joined CIBC West Indies Holdings in July 1998 and served as President and CEO, where he oversaw the integration of CIBC with the Caribbean operations of Barclays Bank. He became the Executive Chairman of the new regional Bank.

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