Published on April 1, 2024

Minister Tinée Furbert Provides Update on Joint SDG Fund Programme for Gender Equality in Bermuda

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday (March 1), Bermuda’s Minister of Youth, Social Development, and Seniors Tinée Furbert provided an update on the United Nations Joint SDG Fund Programme: “Building Back Equal through Innovative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, this morning I rise to provide this Honourable House with an update on the United Nations Joint SDG Fund Programme: “Building Back Equal through Innovative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment,” also referred to as the Building Back Equal Project led by UN Women in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This joint programme was officially launched in Bermuda on 27 June 2022 and recently extended until October 2024.

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to remind my Honourable colleagues that the joint programme – the Building Back Equal Project – aims to diversify Bermuda’s economy by supporting the growth of new opportunities for empowering women, our youth, and persons with disabilities to engage in key economic sectors, such as agriculture; cultural and creative industries; micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs); and sustainable tourism. The joint programme also aligns with the Government’s national priorities and its commitment to ensuring the advancement of gender affairs.

The joint programme encourages productive engagement for the growth of new opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, and cultural industries.

Mr. Speaker, in February 2024, representatives from UN Women Caribbean and UNDP Multi-Country Office in Jamaica made their second mission trip this year to Bermuda to advance the Build Back Equal Project. The first mission trip was in October 2023.

Mr. Speaker, as part of the terms of reference for the joint programme, feasibility studies were to be undertaken on the business landscape of women, youth, and persons with disabilities entrepreneurs. This is what the second mission trip in February this year focused on, in addition to introducing a potential accelerator programme to the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation for Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).

Mr. Speaker, you may recall that in 2022, I informed this Honourable House that UN Women was seeking to hire consultants as researchers for the Building Back Equal Project. Also in March 2023, I shared that another consultancy position was advertised by UN Women for a consultant to be hired and based in Bermuda to support the activities of the joint programme. At that time, the Ministry issued a press release to encourage Bermudians to apply for this job opportunity to work for UN Women within the framework of the joint programme.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to announce that Bermudian Mrs. Clesia Pachai was hired by UN Women as the Bermuda-based Consultant. Mrs. Pachai is an accredited Climate Change Professional who has twelve years of experience working at HSBC Bermuda, leading the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability function. Mrs. Pachai attended The Berkeley Institute and holds a BA in Event Management, a Master of Science in Social Responsibility and Sustainability, and a Green Finance Certification. Mrs. Pachai is also a consultant within Bermuda’s International Business Sector, with a focus on environment, social and governance strategic development and climate risk.

Mrs. Pachai has been contracted by UN Women to provide support for the “Building Back Equal Project” by liaising with various partners of the joint programme such as UN Women, UNDP, other consultants; the Ministry of Youth, Social Development, and Seniors; Bermuda Economic Development Cooperation and key community stakeholders, to build a framework that fosters economic development focusing on growing and scaling women-owned and led businesses within Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to Mrs. Clesia Pachai, UN Women has contracted three more consultants to advance the Bermuda Building Back Equal program to the next phase. These consultants each have specialised training, skills, and expertise required to conduct the specific feasibility studies in February during the UN Women and UNDP mission trip.

Mr. Speaker, let me share a bit about each of the consultants’ expertise and the work they have commenced to progress the Building Back Equal Programme.

Firstly Mr. Speaker, Ms. Kizzann Sammy is a senior development professional. She holds more than twenty years of experience in programme implementation across government, the private sector, and non-profit organisations, located in North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Sub-Saharan Africa. These organisations include Caribbean governments, Global Affairs Canada, the Inter-American Development Bank, CARICOM, the Red Cross Society, the UN Environment Programme and UN Women. Ms. Sammy is highly qualified with a master’s degree in international development and an MBA in Economic Crime and Fraud Management. She divides her time between consultancies in primary health care programmes in Canada and gender lens investing programmes across international projects. Ms. Sammy was contracted by UN Women to develop and conduct a feasibility study on financing instruments for women-owned MSMEs in six Caribbean islands and Bermuda; and, to present a report with recommendations, under the Joint SDG Fund programme.

Mr. César Yammal, the second consultant, is an experienced international consultant in designing, coordinating, implementing, supervising and evaluating national and regional gender-focused projects, programmes, and public policies centred on development and investment in science, technology, innovation, research, higher education, environment, SMEs, business incubation, and entrepreneurship, covering both technical and logistical as well as fiduciary aspects. Mr. Yammal holds a doctorate in Chemical Sciences and a master’s in business administration, specialises in Management Consulting and is a Fulbright Scholar. He has field experience working in various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Mr. Yammal has ten years of experience working at the World Bank and as a consultant for Inter-American Development Bank (DB). Mr. Yammal has been contracted by UN Women to conduct a needs assessment on financial instruments for women-owned MSMEs in Bermuda, under the Joint SDG Fund programme.

Ms. Heather Pinnock, the third consultant, is a development professional with formal training in Architecture Urban Design and Project Management, who holds professional certifications as an agile project management SCRUM Master, an EarthCheck Design Accredited Professional, and a licensed real estate salesperson. Her experience includes master planning, energy-efficient and net zero buildings, sustainable housing, and public spaces. Since 2022, Ms. Pinnock has served as a planning advisor to UN Women Caribbean and co-chair of the Commonwealth Women in Planning network. Ms. Pinnock leads her own boutique development company, LUCEA Caribbean, which offers advisory services with a focus on sustainable development, climate resilience, and conscious living for tropical regions. Ms. Pinnock has been contracted by UN Women to undertake training needs assessment on climate and shock resilient needs of women-owned MSMEs, unemployed women, and other marginalised groups in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, a total of nine delegates associated with the joint programme, who represent both the UN Women and the UNDP Multi-Country Office, were on the island the week of 5 February 2024. The mission provided an opportunity for delegates to meet with government ministers, members of the Public Service Executive, Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, technical officers, banks, and business entrepreneurs. The UN Women consultants had a full schedule of activities that included, but were not limited to:

  • Meeting with myself and technical officers in the Ministry of Youth, Social Development, and Seniors, including the Office of Aging and Disability Services;
  • Participating in focus group sessions with:
    • Youth-owned businesses;
    • Women-owned businesses located in the east end of the island;
    • Women-owned businesses in the west end of the island;
    • Women-owned businesses located in the centre of the island;
    • Successful established women-owned businesses and those in the earlier stage of business; and
    • Men-owned businesses.
  • Engaging financial institutions Bermuda Commercial Bank and Clarien Bank; 
  • meeting with key stakeholders including BEDC, the Human Rights Commission, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, and the Bermuda Tourism Authority;
  • Consultation with civil society organisations that empower women, youth, and persons with disabilities, inclusive of the Women Resource Centre, Future Leaders Bermuda, and Tomorrow’s Voices; and,
  • Site visits across the island to meet women-owned businesses.

Mr. Speaker, I personally participated in the consultation meeting held with the non-profit organisation WeSpeak, which was created for women by women. This meeting allowed me to hear how passionate and dedicated the members of this organisation are to helping women find and project their voices and build confidence and leadership capabilities by developing their presentation and public-speaking skills. WeSpeak empowers women by providing a safe space for women to improve their public speaking skills. I also sat in on the focus group session with our successful established women-owned businesses. This provided me an opportunity to hear the success stories along with the barriers these women face, and the recommendations they made to potentially close existing gaps to improve the business environment for women-owned MSMEs.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the various forums was for the UN Women consultants to gather information, by listening to entrepreneurs of MSMEs experiences, their concerns, and potential solutions to improve the local landscape for MSMEs and how this could be facilitated in practice.

Mr. Speaker, the question is always asked – What’s next? Let me say that the site visits held by the UN Women Consultants, the focus group sessions, the individual discussions, meetings with the financial institutions, government ministries, and departments and non-profit organisations – all provided feedback that will feed into the assessments being conducted by the UN Women consultants and form part of a national report to provide Bermuda’s current position as a country. This would allow themes and trends to be identified to create an overall country profile that would support the direction of piloting innovative financing tools for gender equality to enable entrepreneurs who are women, youth, and persons with disabilities to access additional capital, reduce risks, and accelerate SDG achievement. These assessments are a first for Bermuda, and the Ministry certainly welcomes the national report. The Ministry of Youth, Social Development, and Seniors remain committed to sharing this report upon completion. I also look forward to sharing subsequent updates with this Honourable House on the progress of the Building Back Equal joint programme.

Mr. Speaker, the contribution the delegates from UN Women and UNDP have made thus far for Bermuda and its citizens in advancing new opportunities through the joint programme is trail-blazing. I extend my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Erica Smith, Executive Director of BEDC, Ms. Jamillah Lodge, Communication and Development Director of BEDC, and their team for their invaluable contributions, their commitment to the programme and their expertise. Lastly, thank you to the government departments, owners of MSMEs, members of the civil society organisations, and financial organisations that participated in the consultations and site visits. Your time and feedback are valued.


Thank you, Mr. Speaker!


Originally published by Bernews



The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.