“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” – Psalm 37:23-24
As we continue to address the challenges of this changing world we observe powerful signals attempting to guide us into the future. Last week we talked about “Youth and The Future” and observed one of Brian Griffith’s “Jewels for the Day” which was a quote from John F. Kennedy stating “The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by sceptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by obvious realities. We need men and women who can dream of things that never were”. Last Saturday Brian offered another sequel, this time from Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan (1916 -2004). He was born in London, England and was educated at the Sorbonne, Oxford. After the war, Pir Vilayat pursued his spiritual training by studying with masters of many different religious traditions throughout India and the Middle East and continually adapted traditional Eastern spiritual practices in keeping with the evolution of Western consciousness. He left with us the thought “The future is not there waiting for us. We create it by the power of imagination”. Yet another signal was experienced last Friday night, when a large audience attended the Olive Trotman Memorial Lecture entitled ‘Stimulating Economic Development in the Caribbean’ and delivered by Dr. Cardinal Warde, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The event was part of the 39th Anniversary celebrations of the Barbados Public Workers’ Co-operative Credit Union, an organisation now with assets close to BBD 600 million. Professor Warde was born in Barbados in 1945 and, although the foundation of his secondary education was laid at another place, he completed it at Harrison College. Unfortunately, by the time he arrived at Harrison College in the early to mid 1960s, I had already departed to pursue my tertiary education and we never met until about 15 years ago. Cardinal was accepted at the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1965 and graduated in 1969 with a BSc in physics; he went onto Yale University where he gained his MPhil and PhD degrees, also in physics. Since then he has had an illustrious career at MIT and has made many technical breakthroughs. He is the holder of twelve patents covering his inventions. He was recognised with the Companion of Honour, by the Government of Barbados in 2003. My sister Helen is currently visiting Barbados, and knowing of my passion for entrepreneurial development, drew my attention to the lecture. I am usually challenged to be awake at that time of the evening but fortunately my schedule permitted a power nap in the afternoon. Indeed it was an occasion not to be missed. Everything, well almost everything, said by Dr. Warde resonated positively with me: (1) recognise that Government is the policy maker and must play a facilitating regulatory and service role to create a user-friendly enabling environment; (2) empower individuals and the private sector to lead the business activity; (3) create a vision for the people; (4) realise that our people are our greatest asset and reform the educational system to develop them to the fullest; (5) engage the global Diaspora to garner experience, expertise and financial resources; (6) become leading edge by forging international smart partnerships; (7) find more ways to attract finance for the development of ideas since timely access to appropriate financial instruments is the single largest constraint to entrepreneurial development; (8) encourage credit unions to view entrepreneurial development as a potential opportunity for investment, growth and development; (9) capitalise on the geographical proximity to North America; (10) understand that equity and not loan financing must lead the financial mix for enterprise development; (11) learn from mistakes of other emerging nations such as Singapore, Ireland, Israel and Brazil; and (12) develop a centralised Intellectual Property system. The one thing that “jarred” was a reference to the failure rate of existing emerging enterprises. Whereas I admit that historically this has been the case, this is a legacy that we can do without. I pointed out in “question” time that CBET Inc. had introduced the concept of a Shepherd, who will be paid, to guide the entrepreneur on the journey from business idea to sustainable business success. I asked Dr. Warde what he thought of the shepherding concept to mitigate the risk of business failure. He responded positively.