“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” – 1 Corinthians 14:33

In a recent BBEC press release entitled “Invest in the Caribbean”, Jeremy Stephen, a 25 year old BBEC financial advisor, gave investment advice.

An experienced Caribbean consultant from Manchester Trade, Ltd., D.C. responded to the press release as follows: (1) In one of the most cost-expensive and uncompetitive market in the Americas?; (2) Go ahead and be my guest following the advice of a 25 year old financial advisor!!!; (3) Maybe in the DR, but I suspect BBEC’s notion of Caribbean is not that broad, huh? (4) I wish it were that easy my friend…; (5) Stay well, but please try to stay real!

I am puzzled by the style of the response but one positive thing about it is that it was copied to a virtual “Who’s Who” in economics and finance in the region, each of whom now has the opportunity to be aware of BBEC (www.bimventures.com), if they were not already aware.

For the record, Jeremy holds a BSc. (Hons). Economics First Class Honours degree from the UWI, the Central Bank of Barbados Scholarship 2004, the Llewyn Rock Memorial Prize for Economics 2004 and the Charles M Kennedy Prize for Economics 2005.  He since acquired his MSc. Finance at the Imperial College Business School, London on a British Commonwealth Scholarship 2006.  He is an entrepreneur, with experience in the entertainment industry and has an avid interest in financial investment through Damoola Inc. On returning to Barbados he has immersed himself in the BBEC problem solving environment.

The CBET Shepherding ModelTM is proprietary to Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc (CBET) and all intellectual property rights in the CBET Shepherding Model (TM) are exclusively owned by CBET.  The Barbados Government was approached in 2008 and, arising out of this initiative, the Barbados Business Enterprise Corp. (BBEC) emerged as a partnership between CBET Inc. and the Government and Private Sector in Barbados and is maturing day by day.  The model is licensed to BBEC.

CBET is promoting the CBET Shepherding Model to other sovereign countries as a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable economic development in emerging nations, one enterprise after another.  To date the Model has been promoted in London (Commonwealth audience), in Dominican Republic (Latin American and Caribbean audiences) and in Africa (African, Indian and Asian audiences) with uniformly favourable responses.

It is interesting to note another response to the same press release from a Barbadian, ICT student at University in Canada.  He is even younger than Jeremy, well equipped in the current global reality of social media marketing and has his own website development business. It reads as follows: “I completely agree with Jeremy Stephen. I think marketing and running with it will be a good turn for Barbados. It will allow our government to have more funds to allocate to the tourism sectors and market Barbados at faster and harder pace. Good call!”

God does not stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. CBET has already received expressions of interest from other Caribbean countries to advise on the next steps to adopt the CBET Model.  Over the years the model has evolved  and now consists of three nodes addressing three important issues and providing three realistic solutions: (1) Issue: Sourcing of Business Ideas – Solution: Innovative Sunrise Industries with the “DNA of an Elephant”; (2) Issue: High failure rate of Start-up Enterprises – Solution: Shepherding; (3) Issue: Timely access to Appropriate Finance – Solution: Seed & Venture Capital Funding.

The CBET Board will enter into a licensing arrangement with each sovereign country to allow for the country’s implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model under licence, in return for which the country will receive at least the following: (a) comprehensive operations manual; (2) a training programme; (3) implementation assistance; (4) regular updates; and (5) advisory services on request.  The consideration for these services may include a combination of (1) a licence fee, (2) annual royalty fees and (3) consulting fees.

The pilot phase has just been completed and there is much that has been learned on many fronts. The first venture capital investments have been decided upon and the corresponding disbursement process is taking root. In February 2009 there will be a shepherding and business advisors training programme in preparation for the next cohort of six businesses which will enter the BBEC system.  New businesses which have already submitted their expression of interest forms are currently being evaluated for final selection.  Those who are not selected for the next cohort are eligible to be considered for the following cohorts which are expected every two months.

Marita Greenidge, also in her mid-twenties, joined Jeremy and me in October 2009 to constitute the BBEC executive management team.  Marita holds a BSc. (Hons). Economics First Class Honours degree from the UWI and was Mark Ain Entrepreneurship Scholar 2007-2008.  She was also the recipient of an Organisation of American States Scholarship and a Barbados National Development Scholarship and has since acquired her MBA (Marketing) at the Simon Graduate School of Business Rochester, NY, concentrating on marketing, strategy and entrepreneurship.  She is an entrepreneur, with interest in quantitative marketing through Crimson-Jade Consulting. The BBEC team has evolved in peace and harmony.

We must now avoid confusion and grow from strength to strength in these very challenging times.