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Aerial view of St. George’s, Grenada

The Commonwealth in Action: Expert’s assistance boosts economic development in Grenada

Lainy Malkani writes about Commonwealth expert Kaisha Ince’s work as a Senior Commercial Counsel in Grenada.

Kaisha Ince is a formidable lawyer. For the last four years, she has been using her talents as a Senior Commercial Counsel in Grenada, under the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC). An initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the fund has been boosting development in small and vulnerable countries since 1971. 

Kaisha has helped to secure contracts worth millions of dollars. So what kind of impact has her work had on the people of Grenada? Lainy Malkani has been finding out. 

It’s an early start for taxi driver Celestine Morain. Every morning he takes his place in the taxi rank at Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and waits for the first flight of the day. At six thirty, the sun is not too hot and the roads are clear -  perfect conditions to welcome hundreds of new arrivals and whisk them off to their hotels.

Celestine, a member of the Grenada Airport Taxi Association, is one of 60 taxi drivers who work this patch every day. Over the last four years he’s seen positive changes to his business, as more and more tourists arrive on the island.

He puts the increase in demand down to the recent opening of the Sandals La Source Resort along one of Grenada’s most popular beaches, the Grand Anse, a 3km stretch of beautiful white sand.

“In the past, I used to get around two jobs a day, now I get four or five”, he says, “it has made a tremendous difference to my job.”

He isn’t the only one to benefit from swelling tourist numbers, since Kaisha Ince took up her job as Senior Commercial Counsel in 2012. Under the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) three thousand jobs have been secured. Kaisha has overseen contracts that have led to a US$2 billion injection into the tourism sector through the Mt Hartman Peninsular and Hog Island development, as well as the Silver Sands Project worth US$60 million.

“You come to Grenada and you see people working”, she says. “You can see construction and you get a sense that things are happening.”

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Grenada’s economy is estimated to have expanded by 4.6 per cent. This growth has been fuelled by investments in trade, tourism and construction.

Kaisha was responsible for negotiating around 55 major agreements and transactions, all of which will create sustainable development and employment for the people of Grenada where thirty per cent of the population are unemployed.

Creating sustainable growth for local people was at the heart of Kaisha’s work.

“I set out to negotiate a preference for local suppliers and services providers as well as guaranteed employment for a percentage of local workers on development projects,” she says.

Her expertise has also led to a marked change in behaviour in the way in which international contractual agreements are entered into by the Government. Now, the Office of the Attorney General is at the heart of all negotiations, and she has helped to build expertise with other members of the team including two lawyers who were mentored through structured training and workshops. As her understudies they have developed into an experienced group of negotiators, with the skills to ensure rule of law is at the heart of Grenada’s economic development.

‘‘I have always been interested in commercial and financial law that lead to economic development in a country,” Kaisha explains.  “Seeing the economy of Grenada turn around with tangible results is one of my proudest achievements.”

Kaisha is no stranger to the Caribbean. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago and returned home after studying to become a barrister in the UK, but not before working in commercial law in the banking sector in London.

“It was a demanding job,” she recalls. “Working in the banking sector in a male dominated environment was difficult, but it taught me how to become a tough lawyer and a skilful negotiator. It is this training and experience that I bring to the CFTC programme.”

At the end of her assignment the government of Grenada retained Kaisha. She now holds a senior position in the prime minister’s office.