“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” – 1 Peter 5:4-5
There is a series of challenges pervading the Barbadian society which are of great concern. These challenges collectively impede the path of progress and it is incumbent upon us to urgently devise creative and innovative solutions which are of paramount importance to the sustainability of our society.
I shall use four examples selected from a bevy of recent and historical experiences to demonstrate the challenges. Three of these relate to the traditional and emerging productive sectors of our economy which drive our attempt at socio-economic progress and, no less importantly, one of them is concerned with an essential service without which our society would be in instant chaos. There is a common theme that pervades these and other examples and, indeed, I think that a generic solution is possible.
The first example is an entrepreneurial challenge. It is accepted that economic development cannot take place except through the development of one successful enterprise (conceived by an entrepreneur) after another. The challenge is to convert each of these enterprises into a commercial reality. A sustained approach is required whereby a partnership is forged between the entrepreneur and a shepherding process, since it is unlikely that the entrepreneur is also going to be equally proficient in the combined areas of governance, marketing, operations and finance, to the extent necessary to take the business to sustained success.
The second example is an agricultural challenge. Food is a basic need and food security should be treated with greater respect. One often gets the impression that some people think that the origin of food is in the supermarket. There is a large number of local primary supply sources of crops, livestock and fisheries, either produced by large farmers, small farmers or householders. The challenge is the efficient distribution of this supply, in fresh or processed form, to customers which include hucksters, farmers’ markets, hotels, restaurants, institutions, supermarkets, brokers, cruise ships and exports; or for import substitution. A sustained partnership approach is required whereby an agricultural information and distribution system will be established to co-ordinate the flow of produce from supply to demand.
(3) The third example is the creative industry challenge. Creative industries include music, film, fashion and art. One makes a deliberate effort to produce the best quality products, given the resources available, for varied markets through many distribution channels. The challenge in this industry is first of all to pitch to strategic partners to garner support for the production phase and then to get the product sold globally. A sustained approach has to be taken to establish a distribution system where the producers can produce and the distribution system takes care of all of their distribution needs.
In the film industry, for example, there are a number of independent film producers who must produce their film to global quality standards. This must be complemented by a film distribution company which would “purchase” films from independent film producers and distribute them in the global marketplace using the traditional channels of screening, DVD, TV, Internet streaming and digital download. The film producer would then be free to rejoin the production cycle knowing that the securing of a return on investment is in good hands.
The fourth example is the public transportation challenge. Not all citizens in Barbados have access to private transportation but everybody needs to get from origin to destination and back in a timely, comfortable and safe manner. The challenge is the movement of those people without private transportation. This becomes a matter of public concern and one where effective government policy must exist to address it. In Barbados, public transportation is provided by the Government owned Barbados Transport Board and privately owned Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
A sustained approach is needed which ensures that the PSVs not only provide a timely, comfortable and safe service but that their partnership with Government ensures that they stay in business. PSVs constitute a significant component of the public transportation to the extent that if this element of the system were driven out of business, then chaos would reign. Government policy regarding public service vehicles should be continually under review and policed to ensure that the quality of the service is enhanced and that PSV owners’ concerns are addressed in the interest of their survival and in the national interest.
When each of the above partnerships has been established, then the parties embark on the joint task of identifying the financial capital and Government policy support to procure all the resources required for success. The individual solutions to the four challenges may all be couched in terms of the generic solution “shepherding-systems coordination-money- success”. This may then be applied to the multitude of other examples that arise in our society.
When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with his rule, he’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly and you who are younger must follow your leaders.