With improved infrastructure, businesses can now operate anywhere worldwide. Most Caribbean countries have developed methods to reach both local and international markets, however, some remote regions are still struggling with serving international markets and receiving payments. These regions are in the process of developing or improving systems to accommodate electronic payment platforms and the aim is to enable payment through internet-based systems or mobile devices specifically, with Wi-Fi accessibility more prevalent now than ten years ago. Jamaica, for example, is the home of a considerate number of musical creatives and most of these artists yearn for wider exposure internationally but may face economic constraints.
Many export development agencies in the Caribbean are now prioritising the creative industries to promote performance in the international market with the creative sector at the forefront as a viable investment to trade diversification.
Additionally, joining international platforms such as Patreon, or YouTube can help creatives reach more clients and offer their services and products globally.
You may be asking though, “but how do I get paid?“
Increased exposure adds value to you as an artist and provides more revenue earning opportunities locally, and internationally. Creatives can also consider becoming part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program, where money can be earned by sharing links to products sold on their website. Depending on the platform you use, let’s say YouTube, whenever your subscribers click on these links and make a purchase, you can earn a commission. Learn more about the affiliate program here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/
One challenge to note while utilising several creative platforms as a Caribbean creative is receiving payments. However, when setting up an account on Patreon for example, you’ll be guided through the steps accordingly after you select the ‘non-US creator’ option: https://support.patreon.com/hc/en-us/articles/115004029783-Set-up-my-payout-information
Another challenge experienced by creatives in the Caribbean who may be offering a product, is fluctuating shipping costs. Due to each island’s unique postal policies, it can sometimes be a frustrating process to get one’s goods to an international client. We suggest not only making yourself aware of your island’s export rules and regulations but also establishing a relationship with the customer service reps at your local post office. We must learn to take advantage of the ‘smallness’ of our islands and the opportunities for networking that can offer. Being on friendly terms with your local post office staff could help you discover unique ways to simplify and expedite the shipment of your products.
Creatives who offer graphic design services on various objects or, design clothing, can utilise the drop-shipping method. They simply need to send their designs directly to the manufacturer, and when orders are made by the client, the items are shipped directly from the US or Canada-based warehouse to the customer. One popular drop-shipping company is Shopify: https://www.shopify.com/dropshipping?gclid=Cj0KCQjww4OMBhCUARIsAILndv7hF0qT5wU4oU21ehWWtT06jrfh6afKDoyRptrdbU3QoXbDZ7OQNG8aAuZwEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
According to the Trade Reference Centre (2021), one country making strides in simplifying shipping logistics is Grenada. Rich in spice-making and medicinal plants, the Spice Isle has created national export strategies with the aim of opening new prospects, and the island is currently involved in a trade liberalisation scheme. See more islands’ trade policies here: http://ctrc.sice.oas.org/trc/Grenada/GrenadaTradePolicy_e.asp
Lastly, due to globalisation, the evolution of technology, and the emergence of opportunities, more businesses are developing ways to make online payments possible by creating their own electronic payment platforms. This will benefit multiple countries such as Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad & Tobago, which actively engage in export trade. An excellent example of this electronic-payment innovation is the CX PAY online transaction system based in Curacao. It’s a system that allows customers to make payments and billing, among other services. The system uses a customer vault to protect valuable information and a redirect program authentication. Also, it allows batch processing, electronic invoicing, and recurrent billing, which are essential during trade transactions. Read more here: https://cxpay.global/
In conclusion, as a creative seeking to gain international clientele by working remotely, there will be some challenges that require new innovations or adjustments to established methods. There is a vast market internationally ready to accept Caribbean based creatives, their services, and products.
Caribbean governments will need to play a crucial role in enabling an open market both locally and internationally. The trade liberations and policies that Caribbean export agencies form will need to create ways to penetrate the competitive international market. Special attention should be paid to remote regions and the infrastructure created to support their creative potential. With these changes gradually implemented, Caribbean creatives can take advantage of their proximity to Canada and the United States, and potentially dominate those markets.