“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” – Philippians 1:17

My most frequently traveled to cities in North America are Miami, New York and Toronto. I try to avoid New York and Toronto between the months of December and April because of the potential to experience sub zero temperatures. I got caught twice in the last two years on assignments, the dates of which were not of my choosing. When I learnt recently that this was about to happen again, I fortified myself psychologically to withstand the expected onslaught of the wind chill factor.

The primary purpose of my visit to New York was, with five other colleagues, to independently vision the future of Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism and Counterpart Caribbean. The six of us duly convened at Ruder Finn’s office last Monday. CMEx, founded four and a half years ago, continues to enjoy much success and interest throughout the Caribbean and beyond as a communications organization promoting tourism through smart partnerships with the media and tourism industry stakeholders.

The last CMEX event was held in Nassau in December 2005 with the theme “Exploring Niche Markets for Caribbean Tourism” and was heralded as a resounding success. The next event, the 12th in the series, will take place from the 9th to 13 th February 2006 in Puerto Rico and is oversubscribed. This time we pursue the interesting theme “Sustainable Development: A Balancing Act” and it promises to be an extremely exhilarating affair with ‘Talk Back Live’ and ‘Interactive Dialogue’ sessions, local cultural and historical episodes and talent shows. There will be a star studded cast of Caribbean and International participants with a special window for the youth.

CMEx has evolved steadily into what it is today and our meeting focused on a future which takes CMEx to another level, guided by the Mission “To be the Premier Communications Organisation prompting Sustainable Tourism, through Media and Smart Partnerships, to Create Wealth for the Peoples of Latin America, the Caribbean and other Emerging Markets”.

The other meeting, with the same group, was an example of synergy of interaction among experienced persons. The visioning of the future of Counterpart Caribbean was also taken to a higher level. The Mission is “To stimulate Awareness of the need for Holistic Environmental Sustainable Development in the Physical, Social, Economic and Cultural Life of Barbados and the Caribbean” and there were many ‘out of the box’ suggestions for immediate resource sourcing and implementation.

It was at these meetings that I was inspired to address a specific area of concern to the development in the Caribbean. It relates to a hypothesis tabled by our group that many departments or individuals, irrespective of the country of business activity, with the title ‘Sales Department’ or ‘Sales Executive’, respectively, do not really know what they are about and do not deliver the goods. The business is starved of revenue which in many cases is there for the taking in the global market place.

Take, for example, the average annual occupancy rate of 60 to 65% of hotels in Barbados. Some of these hotels average 90 to 95% and obviously others are below 65%. An occupancy rate below 65% is probably close to breakeven which is not the purpose of being in business. One needs business to be as profitable as you can make it and in the hotel business this translates into the need for high occupancy rates. In the hotels that average 90 to 95% their sales people know what they are doing, in the ones with a lower occupancy they need to address the situation urgently and aggressively.

On my return to the Caribbean, facing the challenges of shepherding entrepreneurs from concept to sustainable success, another issue arose. If an enterprise has the potential for exponential growth, do entrepreneurs realise their responsibility to develop their idea for the benefit of the nation, or are they just focused on their own needs and proceeding at their own pace? Some do, some don’t. Do the public and private sectors realise their responsibility to support these entrepreneurs in developing these ideas for the benefit of the nation or do envy, bureaucracy, and greed intervene to the detriment of the nation. Some do, some don’t.

If the country does well, we all do well. All entrepreneurs, blessed with projects, which have potential for exponential growth, owe it to the nation to get on the appropriate growth path. All private business and public departments and agencies, need to ensure that their social responsibility is alive and well and give the entrepreneurs the timely and sufficient help that they need.

When an exponential growth potential idea is identified and developed not only is there the potential to make profits but also jobs are created, VAT grows, NIS contributions are increased, more tax goes into the exchequer, natural resources may be utilized and foreign exchange may be earned and saved.

We have the examples of the Williams, Simpsons and Goddards in Barbados and the Chastanets in St. Lucia who have amassed relatively large empires, even though they all started from a humble beginning. Here is a challenge for small entrepreneurs with high growth rate projects to excel.