Local Cape Verdeans invest across Atlantic

Yawu Miller | 7/30/2008, 5:16 a.m.
Development consultant Armindo Gonçalves (center) makes a point during a forum on Cape Verde business opportunities while Zenaide N. Lete (left) of Cape Verdean Investments and Verissimo Pinto of Cape Verde Stock Exchange (BCV) look on. The discussion was part of Mostra Cabo Verde, a conference highlighting businesses, nonprofits and cultural groups run by Cape Verdeans in the United States and in Cape Verde. Yawu Miller

Even the formerly Marxist-leaning African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde, or PAICV, has embraced neoliberal economic policies that encourage investment.

“Individuals feel very confident in the government,” deMacedo said. “It’s transparent. They feel their investments are safe in Cape Verde.”

While the development boom in Cape Verde is fueled largely by tourism and the increasing economic power of its expatriate population, the islands are also seeing an increase in other business growth, thanks in part to the $110 million Millennium Challenge grant Cape Verde was awarded by the U.S. government in 2004.

The grant, aimed at economic development, has ratcheted up interest in Cape Verdean business development.

With the growth has come the challenges typically associated with developing nations. In panel discussions, Cape Verdean entrepreneurs discussed the advantages and disadvantages of tariffs and foreign ownership. Tourism has brought foreign exchange to Cape Verde, but has also placed some choice spots out of the average Cape Verdean citizen’s reach.

Verissimo Pinto directs the Bolsa de Valores de Cabo Verde, the Cape Verdean stock exchange. He said the government is using the Millennium Challenge grant to help Cape Verdean businesses step up to the challenges posed by foreign competition.

“We’ve started a business incubation project,” he said. “We take small businesses that have potential for growth and build them up for a year until we open the market up to competition.

“We don’t think we should open our businesses overnight and have them overtaken by competition.”