“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” – Proverbs 29:18

The Jamaica Information Service reported on Wednesday, August 23, 2006 that Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Senator Kern Spencer, has said that Jamaicans needed to explore all the available opportunities within the micro and small business sector, as this area is at the heart of economic growth. The State Minister, who was speaking the day before at a luncheon of the Rotary Club of St. Andrew, noted that financing was a major constraint to the growth of the sector.

The State Minister cited the Jamaica National Micro Credit Limited, the Credit Unions, Development Bank of Jamaica, Scotia Bank Micro Enterprise Financing Limited, Access Financial Services, Ex-Im Bank, Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA), and Community Development Funds (CDFS), as institutions that provide loans to persons within the small, micro and medium enterprise sectors.

It was indeed, an honour for me to be invited to give the 26th anniversary lecture of the St. Lucia National Insurance Corporation on April 06 2006. My topic was “The Interdependence of Social Security and Economic Growth”. My four supporting postulates were : (1)Economic Growth is a necessary prerequisite for Poverty Reduction and Socio-Economic Well-Being; (2) Successful Business Enterprises stimulate Economic Growth; (3) The Passion of an Entrepreneur coupled with the optimal combination of ‘Management’ and ‘Financial Investment’, appropriately shepherded, enhances the chances of Sustainable Business Success; and (4) ‘Effective Management’ is the Collateral that provides the Security for Seed Capital and Equity Investment.

I went on to encourage National Insurance Corporations to invest in Enterprise Development, with ‘Effective Management’ as the collateral that mitigates the risk against failure. This will not only stimulate the economic growth and development of the nation but, in so doing, it will also boost the image and stability of National Insurance Corporations.

It is, therefore, interesting to note that Senator Spencer went on to say that “The sectors will also have access to an addition of J$1 billion of new financing from the National Insurance Fund, of which J$250 million will be made available to rural farmers”.

CBET, with its initial focus in the Eastern Caribbean is very concerned about the fading traditional ‘sunset’ industries. It has a mandate to assist with the diversification of our economies by identifying a number of ‘sunrise’ industries which could very well contribute to an emerging arm of the regional private sector.

CBET has found that there is no shortage of entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in e.g. tourism linkages, renewable energy, agro-processing, ICT, film production and services. However, these entrepreneurs are in search of management and funding assistance to convert them into commercial realities. Whereas CBET has access to a virtual network of management resources, it has found the timely access to appropriate finance to be a major constraint to progress.

CBET has continually courted private sector organizations and Central Banks over the last five years and has had some success in obtaining contributions to its permanent subscribed capital and to the capitalization of enterprises. It was not until last week that CBET made a major breakthrough in receiving a generous contribution of B$50,000 from Scotia Bank towards its permanent subscribed capital. This input is specifically for the purpose of providing a revolving fund fto provide immediate assistance to CBET’s emerging entrepreneurs while they await the processing of applications for funds from traditional financial instruments to capitalise their businesses.

The cheque was formally presented by the Bank of Nova Scotia’s Managing Director – Caribbean East, Mr. Stephen Cozier to Sir Neville Nicholls, Chairman of CBET. Mr. Cozier in his formal remarks applauded CBET on its thrust to develop enterprises with “the DNA of an Elephant” and remarked that he was anxiously awaiting the outcome of this injection of funding at the crucial stages of these businesses which have the potential for exponential growth.

Sir Neville in his reply recognized Scotia Bank as a leader in innovation. In particular, Scotia Bank Barbados offers a comprehensive line of retail and commercial services through a sophisticated network of branches across the country. He congratulated the Bank on achieving 50 years of service to the personal and business sectors in Barbados. He also congratulated Scotia Bank for having the vision to complement CBET’s untiring efforts in support of fledgling entrepreneurs whose enterprises have the potential for exponential growth in the global market.

Sir Neville said “Scotia Bank’s generous donation to CBET’s Permanent Subscribed Capital, on its 50th Anniversary, will be used to provide a fund from which timely inputs can be made to a few emerging enterprises to get them off the ground. Once the entrepreneurs overcome this initial period, other sources of finance will nourish them on their path towards sustainable success, at which time they will replenish the CBET coiffeurs in such a way as to allow the fund to grow”.

Sir Neville concluded by saying that it is CBET’s hope that other private sector financial and non-financial entities will have the vision to follow this creative initiative by Scotia Bank, thus giving life to new enterprise development in our quest to grow the regional economies and mitigating the chances of the people perishing in the face of the changing world environment.