History of the National Development Foundation of Dominica
In 1981, a group of public spirited and visionary businessmen recognized the need to stimulate Dominica’s economy which has been severely affected by Hurricane David in 1979. Being aware then, of the developmental work being undertaken by the existing Foundations in the region, particularly in the mobilization of local private sector resources and in channeling external finances and technical resources in their respective countries, these businessmen began investigating the possibility of setting up a local Foundation with assistance from the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and Partnership for productivity (PFP). The initiative was supported by the Government, the wider private sector and the general public. The National Development Foundation of Dominica Limited (NDFD) was incorporated in August 1981 as a private, non-profit developmental organization.
The National Development Foundation of Dominica Limited is a non – profit, non-Government Development Institution mandated to serve the Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises (MSME) in the Commonwealth of Dominica and has been doing so for the past twenty nine (29) years.
Traditionally, Dominica has relied on Agriculture as the major income generator with Banana Production for export to Europe being the major contributor to GDP. For many years, Dominica and the other Windward Islands enjoyed preferential treatment on the UK Market, which assured the region a guaranteed market for its bananas. This position has now been challenged by the World Trade Organization (WTO) thus worsening an already fragile agriculture based economy.
The current trend towards globalization of markets and the current WTO position is not only expected to affect the agricultural sector but is also expected to put additional strain on all sectors especially the Micro and Small Business sectors which are expected to absorb much of the labor fallout resulting from declining banana production. In addition, the sector is also affected by the incident of September 11th, 2001 in the United States of America, which resulted in an economical down turn in the economies worldwide.
In recognition of this fact the government of the Commonwealth of Dominica has been placing much emphasis on Economic Diversification both within and without the agriculture sector. The need for strengthening the MSME’s has been articulated by Governments but with limited resources, little tangible support could have been channeled to the sector.
In keeping with Government Policy therefore, the Foundation sees the need to continue to increase its services to the sector.
The NDFD has a long history in the provision of training and technical assistance to its clients in order to assist them in effective management of their businesses and to ensure repayment of their sub-loans.
Another area of activity is that of project management on behalf of national, regional and international agencies. Among the projects managed is the Passion Development Project for the Government of Dominica Funded by the Pan American Development Foundation PADF and the South Eastern District Fisheries Facility funded by the Inter American Foundation, IAF.
From August of 1999, the Foundation has also been appointed the National Agency for the EU/CARIFORUM Agribusiness Research and Training Fund (CARTF) established by the European Union in collaboration with the Ministers of Agriculture of the CARIFORUM countries. This selection from among several other institutions is a demonstration of the confidence placed in the NDFD by regional and international agencies.
Since many of the businesses benefiting from the NDFD financing lack the necessary technical and managerial capabilities to ensure the success in their enterprises, the NDFD has had to provide this type of support. Scarcity of funds for this purpose, has however, resulted in a reduction of time spent providing support services to its clients. Recognizing the importance of this support to the sector, however, the NDFD approached the European Union through the European Commission Delegation, based in Barbados for assistance to bolster its capacity to provide the support needed by the sector. This proposal was approved and grant funds has been made available for the delivery of increased training and technical support to that sector. The French Cooperation has also made available a grant to assist in the establishment of the NDFD Accounting Business Management and Training Centre (ABMTC), which addresses the need of technical support to the small and medium sized business sectors in the Commonwealth of Dominica.