As a world-leading tourism destination and one of the top international financial centres in the world, the Cayman Islands offers many benefits to potential investors. The absence of exchange controls, a sound legal system, a stable banking environment, a strong regulatory regime and the distinction of being a no tax jurisdiction with excellent physical and professional infrastructure helps us attract people from all over the world.
The Government established the Cayman Islands Investment Bureau under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce in 2003. With its mission of facilitating appropriate long-term inward and local investment, the CIIB is an advocate for the continued development of the Cayman Island’s investment climate.
The CIIB’s broad range of free services includes consultation, liaison, and coordination services that are delivered by a qualified staff that assists both foreign and local investors with their business ventures in the Cayman Islands. Guidance on laws, regulations, government policies and procedures is a key part of the CIIB’s service as foreign investors are often unfamiliar with the Cayman business environment.
While the CIIB is not a licensing agency, it does provide advice to the Cayman Islands Government on the granting of incentives to investment projects. Working closely with an investor, the CIIB conducts an evaluation of the potential economic impact of a project with input from other relevant government agencies. A cost-benefit analysis is then used to determine the level of support granted to a project.
The CIIB also works to develop links between foreign investment projects and local businesses to ensure that the economic benefits of inward investment accrue within the Cayman economy. In particular, great attention is paid to the entrepreneurial ventures that capitalise on new opportunities, create more linkages within the local economy and contribute to the development of our communities and society as a whole. To this end, the CIIB has been involved in a range of initiatives to support small business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a comprehensive technical assistance programme that includes one-on-one business counselling, workshops, training forums, networking events and marketing assistance to local small businesses.
The goal is to not only attract inward investment that is appropriate for our society, environment, and economy, but to also foster an environment for local businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish. The correct balance of inward investment and local investment will help to ensure that the Cayman Islands economy develops at a sustainable level.
Since lack of financing is often a problem for many small businesses and entrepreneurs, the CIIB has developed partnerships with traditional and non-traditional sources of funding to assist persons who are looking for extra capital to finance their projects. There is a referral system in place with Cayman National Bank for their clients who need additional help with preparing business plans and CIIB advisors have been trained on CNB loan requirements so they can help clients better prepare for bank meetings.
The Cayman Islands Development Bank is getting ready to launch its small Business Financial Stimulus Program and the CIIB will assist to help build the awareness around that. The Program centres on strong training related to Business Discipline and Debt Management and involve specific initiatives designed for overdraft facilities, debt consolidation and low cost capital replacement.
The CIIB was also instrumental in the establishment of the Cayman Angel Investors Network. The Network comprises successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in the Cayman Islands that have an interest in stimulating Caymanian entrepreneurship. CAIN was launched in March 2006 and the Bureau continues to assist on an administrative and marketing level. Foreign investors can also contact the CIIB directly to learn of potential business opportunities locally that are open to such interest.
The CIIB’s programmes to assist local entrepreneurs and foreign investors have been very successful since their introduction four years ago. Over 360 small business clients have registered with the CIIB in the past four years. Including entrepreneurs that have participated in at least one of the CIIB sponsored workshops/seminars, the total number of entrepreneurs/business owners that have utilised the CIIB’s services has now exceeded 1,000 individuals. With respect to foreign investors, over 270 individuals have contacted the CIIB for assistance over the past four years. The success of the CIIB’s local programmes and a need to stimulate investment in the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman also led to the launch of the CIIB’s Brac office in April of 2008.
With increasing international competition and a global economic slowdown, the CIIB’s role in stimulating economic development has come under increased focus. Efforts are under way to diversify the Cayman economy with the development of a local film industry and an exploration of several niche industries that build upon established local resources. Changes are also being made to the way in which the jurisdiction will be marketed and a greater emphasis will be placed on partnering with local stakeholders to further attract investment to the jurisdiction.