“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” – Luke 6:38

As we approach another Christmas season, we are reminded of the JOY (Jesus, Others, Yourself) of Giving. One of the things that impressed me on my recent visits to New York, certainly in the circles within which I moved, was the spirit of giving in the Diaspora and in the wider corporate setting. It reminded me of my early childhood teaching that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’.

People gave freely of their resources to others on request. The recipient would reciprocate by giving freely of their own complementary resources and hence among a group of friends or colleagues an informal barter system quite naturally arose. Among the Diaspora, the arrangement appeared to me to be a modus operandi for survival and development, in the corporate setting it was a deliberate element of a marketing strategy. This spirit of exchange, which obviates the need for a medium of exchange, provides the necessary underpinning for a smart partnership. Smart partnerships tie shareholders and stakeholders leading to cooperative prosperity. Measured by performance as well as trust, values, ethics and a concern for the holistic environment, it is tomorrow’s management practice.

Let us consider the partnership between, in my case, American Airlines and the organisers of CMExPress. The airline’s support, through the offer of a discounted ticket, is hereby acknowledged in this column, which does not incur an out of pocket cost for the journalist. No money is exchanged but both parties benefit. The aircraft was not full therefore the airline was not denied full revenue from another fee paying passenger and the marginal cost of carrying a passenger is just about negligible these days of ‘no frills’ travel. Similarly, other journalists may benefit from time to time from discounted tickets and the barter is completed by acknowledgement of the airline’s gesture by journalists in the print and broadcast media.

There are so many other opportunities for this type of barter between service providers and the media. Hotels and consultants may barter an empty hotel room or a consultant hour in return for some favourable publicity in the print or broadcast media. A little creativity will reveal endless partnerships that can evolve in this way as an innovative management practice, all being driven by an initial joy of giving.

How can we apply the smart partnership philosophy to Caribbean development? Let us take Counterpart Caribbean (CPC), a sustainable development organisation, and its partnership with Counterpart International (CPI), which has just celebrated its fortieth anniversary and now has affiliates in 60 countries. This is an amazing network of human resources (in a gamut of fields related to sustainable development) and other resources through partnerships with many international organisations.

To the extent that CPI has international programmes that have a Caribbean component, then instead of establishing a Caribbean infrastructure, CPI can partner with CPC to implement the Caribbean component of CPI’s programmes. CPC, on the other hand may have many Caribbean sustainable development objectives in its own programme or in that of its affiliates in the Caribbean, which could benefit from the CPI global network of associates.

Here is a sample of Counterpart Caribbean related initiatives which have immediate relevance regarding Caribbean development: (1) Expansion of The Future Centre concept (holistic sustainable development) as espoused by CPC, (2) Assistance with the implementation of the ICC CWC World Cup 2007 event (the biggest single event to take place in the region), (3) Global implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model (as a stimulus to Enterprise Development), (4) Establishment of an institutional framework through which the Diaspora can mobilise its wealth, expertise and experience for the mutual benefit of the Diaspora and the people of the Caribbean; (5) Promotion of the understanding that the ‘E’ in CSME (Caribbean Single Market and Single Economy) will remain silent until there is a supra-national (federation e.g. USA or commission e.g. EU) body in place, which is unlikely given the individual power enjoyed by the politicians in the sovereignty framework which currently exists, (6) Support for sustainable tourism through the CMEx and CMExPress events and (7) Exploring possible ways to obtain greater benefit for the Caribbean from the annual ‘Miami Conference of the Caribbean’ mounted by Caribbean-Central American Action, which tends to be smothered by the greater Latin American presence, even though Caribbean political leaders use it as an opportunity to have their say.

A smart partnership between CPI and CPC could contribute to the development of the above initiatives.

The English speaking Caribbean is a relatively poor region with an average per capita income of less than US$3000, a factor of ten less than the average for OECD countries, even though there are many pockets of affluence and many natural under-exploited resources. It is the most over-managed region in the world per capita because of the archipelago of 17 small sovereign countries. As Allen Chastanet would say, ‘what does sovereignty mean without economic viability’. Let us establish and develop focused smart partnerships now, in the interest of posterity.