Profile of Mr. Melvin Romeo Edwards, CSM

Mr. Melvin Romeo Edwards was born on April 19th, 1951 in Antigua and Barbuda.  H is a Citizen of St. Christopher and Nevis and presently resides in saint Lucia.  He is married to Olive Nee Cadet and they have four children.

Melvin R Edwards, son of Cecil deceased and Irene nee Rhymer Edwards, who continues to give hi talent, expertise and energy for the furtherance of people empowerment locally and internationally.

Educated at the Sandy Point infant, Irishtown Primary and the St. Kitts-Nevis Grammar Schools, he is a graduate of the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill), the University of Minnesota and the university of wales (Swansea).  As a public servant, he worked in the ministry of education, health, and social affairs for ten impactful years.

  • 1971-1973: Graduate Teacher in French and History, Sandy Point high school
  • 1973-1974: Youth officer St. Kitts and Nevis
  • 1974-1981: Director of Youth and Community Development

In this role he led the expansion of Youth clubs, sports clubs, community organizations and community self help projects throughout St. Kitts and Nevis and promoted the enabling climate for a renaissance of the literary, theatrical, folklore and performing arts, as cornerstones of the soon to be independent nation.  The Youth and Community Development Department (YCDD) became the hub and secretariat of the National Carnival Committee (NCC) under his head as executive director (1975-1981).  He headed the St. Kitts and Nevis delegation to the Caribbean Festival of Arts (Carifesta) in Cuba (1979) and Barbados (1981).  An avid writer and drummer, he is a founding member of the Okolo Tegremantine Arts Theatre, St. Kitts (1973).

In pursuit of his professional interest in expanding employment opportunities and the social economy through cooperatives and small enterprises.  Mr. Edwards migrated to a regional position as director of training and development with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit unions in Barbados and laid the platform for modernizing this sector during 1981-1985.  He returned home in July 1985 for a three-year stint to establish and grow the operations of the foundation for national development (FND) Ltd.  Its private sector led programme had provided access to finance, training, and technical assistance too over 500 small and micro enterprises on St. Kitts and Nevis and the institution was financially sustainable by 1988, with a branch serving Nevisian entrepreneurs.  Meanwhile, he provided voluntary services tot the fledging St. Kitts cooperative Credit union, which he and others had cofounded in 1982.

He subsequently held chief of Party positions for 15 years combined with USAID, CIDA and BearingPoint, managing multi-country private sector and economic competitiveness initiatives in the Caribbean region:

  • Small Enterprise Assistance Project (USAID-CAIC/SEAP, 1988-1992).
  • Eastern Caribbean Economic management project (CIDA-ECEMP/CO-OPS) 1995-1998)
  • Public sector ministries and agencies, the business community, NGO’s and MSMEs in St. Kitts and Nevis benefited significantly from these donors funded regional projects.

Representing St. Kitts and Nevis at he regional and international levels for 18 unbroken years from 1991, Mr. Edwards was elected President of the Caribbean confederation of credit unions (1995-1999) and became the chief architect of an advocate for new harmonized legislation enacted in Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis and the rest of the OECS since the 1990’s.  He was elevated to the Presidency of the World council of credit unions (based in Madison, Wisconsin) in July of 2007 a first for the Caribbean.

Mr. Edwards is a director of TDC group of companies since 2007) the largest firm on St. Kitts and Nevis and chairs its Audit committee.  During the past decade, he has been consulting for the Inter American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, European Union, Commonwealth Secretariat, World Bank, International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other international development agencies in response to the needs of governmental, business, and non-state actors.  He engineered the conversion of the FND after 25 years of service to micro and small enterprises as an NGO into a registered credit union (2000-2010) and providing a wider range of financial products and services to entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers alike.  He has authored numerous published articles and papers and produced technical manuals on MSMEs, microfinance, credit unions and business associations.

LEGACY

In May 2010, he founded the Caribbean Development Education (CaribDE) programme in order to increase activism, youth participation and leadership succession in all echelons of the regions credit union ecosystem by raising the bar of knowledge, skills exposure and passion required to competently address todays developmental and managerial issues.  CaribDE implements a 5-days immersion course inn leadership Development and Change Management for directors, managers, regulators, and staff.  To date, 33 leaders of the Federation’s credit unions have earned the “Development Educators” designation.  The 27 courses have produced 851 graduates from 23 countries (including Haiti and Curacao); 26 of the 60 mentors and facilitators have also been certified as International Credit Union Development Educators (I-CUDEs) by the World Council.

The Melvin Edwards Excellency Award was created by the St. Kitts Co-operative Credit Union (SKCCU) in 2012- the United Nations Year of Co-Operatives.  It promotes academic excellence by providing monetary and other incentives to primary school students that achieved the highest Test of Standards scores.

AWARDS

Mr. Edwards has been recognized for his outstanding contributions throughout the Caribbean Region and internationally to enable and empower families and communities of low and average means to access affordable finance and to gain ownership of democratically controlled financial institutions.

  • He has been honored by the Eastern Caribbean Organization of Development Foundations (ECODEF), Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU), CUNA Caribbean Insurance Society, the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League and the St. Kitts and Nevis Co-operative Credit Union League.
  • In 2013 he received the Distinguished Services Award (DSA) from the World Council of Credit Unions for this lifetime of services to financial and other Co-operatives worldwide.
  • In 2014, in recognition of his exemplary work in development education, the United States Development Education (USDE) Programme presented Mr. Edwards with its individual Achievement Award.
  • On February 28th, 2017 he achieved the singular distinction as the first living person of Caribbean ancestry to be inducted into the African-Americans in Credit Unions Hall of Fame by the African American Credit Union Coalition, USA.

Mr. Melvin EDWARDS is therefore presented with the Award of Companion of the Star of Merit for long and meritorious service to the Nation.