Pierre Hines recently won a $20,000 grant from the Atlantic Council in recognition of his remarkable nonprofit startup, Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation, which he joined to support economic development in Caribbean countries. The organization was founded by Arlene Graham.
“‘Brain drain,’ the process by which a country loses skilled labor through emigration to developed countries, is a significant challenge for Caribbean countries. Many countries have lost more than 70 percent of their educated workforce,” Pierre explains.
For Pierre, this is a personal cause. “I am one of 1.2 million children in the United States with at least one Caribbean-born parent. My Jamaican father and his entire family immigrated to the United States in the 1970’s, and that decision is one the reasons I’ve had world-class educational and professional opportunities.”
“However,” he continues, “I understand that the migration of skilled labor creates challenges for local governments because they lose tax revenue that emigrants would have generated and human capital that emigrants would have contributed.”
Those who return to the Caribbean with quality education from the US or other more developed countries also face challenges. He notes, “It is problematic to have persons with MBAs working as bank tellers. And, for example, I have met a promising person with a master’s degree in engineering who took a job as a locksmith upon returning to the Caribbean.”
With 3.5 million immigrants from the Caribbean living in the U.S., Pierre hopes to tap into that Caribbean diaspora to foster economic development in the region. They are working on two specific initiatives now.
First, he says, “CRN recognizes that Caribbean countries must diversify their economies—particularly because of their heavy reliance on tourism—and recognizes that creating entrepreneur opportunities is a tried-and-true method of bridging the gap between the developing and developed countries. Through the ‘Challenge Cup-Caribbean‘ and related activities, CRN is expanding opportunities for startups to seek international investments and business relationships. CRN’s entrepreneur initiative also allows those with expertise in the diaspora to participate in skills-based volunteering by mentoring startups in their area of expertise—turning the ‘brain drain’ into a ‘brain gain.'”
“Another way that CRN is working to solve the problem is through youth empowerment initiatives. CRN formed the ‘Students for Students Initiative,’ which connects students and young professionals through social media into a support network that facilitates their professional development and enhances cultural awareness,” Pierre continued. “One of CRN’s immediate goals is to establish a physical Caribbean Coworking Campus for entrepreneurs and young people to work, connect, and learn.”
Pierre has a big dreams for CRN, “Our vision for the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation is for it to become a trusted gateway for the Caribbean Diaspora to connect with and contribute to their home region. We also want it to serve as a gateway for those living in the Caribbean to obtain educational and professional opportunities in the global marketplace. Ultimately our goal is for a tech entrepreneur in Kingston, a product manufacturer in Port of Spain, and a service provider in St. Lucia, to have the same educational and professional opportunities as their counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.”
On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at noon Eastern, Pierre will join me for a live discussion about CRN. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation:
The Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation is a grassroots non-profit that supports economic development in the Caribbean to reverse the effects of the “brain drain.” It connects financial and intellectual capital from the Caribbean Diaspora back into the region.
Pierre Hines was born in the United States and is of Jamaican heritage. He is a Board Member of the Caribbean Returning Nationals Foundation, a non-profit that connects financial and intellectual capital from the Caribbean Diaspora back into the region. Pierre is also a corporate attorney based in the Washington, D.C. office of global law firm Jones Day. Prior to joining the legal and non-profit sectors, Pierre served as a Captain in the intelligence branch of the U.S. Army, where he served in a tactical unit and on an IT program. He is also a Fellow with the Atlantic Council, through its Millennium Leadership initiative for veterans under age 35. Pierre received his B.S. from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.