“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” – 1 John 4:20-21

In the book “Loving People” by Dr. John Townsend he said: “How we operate as loving people, and who we love, will make a great difference in the courses of our lives.  You can probably remember right now an experience in which someone affected you a great deal by how much, how helpfully or even how poorly he or she loved you. These events stay with us, for good or for bad, forever. They get inside– and they stay inside. Love matters to us. Love is our highest endeavour. Our lives are evaluated by how much – or how little – we love. Our quality of life and even the number of our days are affected by love. In fact, it is only to the extent that we love well and deeply that we are truly alive.”

It is all very well soaring spiritually at lofty heights in the emotional plane of life but we must, alas, descend to the more practical plane of  socio-economic sustainability and extend these lofty principles to the general public and those who strive to effect enterprise development, the lifeline of sustainable economic growth. Wikipedia defines an entrepreneur as “a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome”.

Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to the type of personality who is willing to take upon herself or himself a new venture or enterprise and accepts full responsibility for the outcome.

Love must be extended to all entrepreneurs because of the beneficial collective impact of their efforts on the lives of all of us in our respective domains. Do entrepreneurs get the love that they deserve?  I think not and that is why the advent of the CBET Shepherding ModelTM is so important as it attempts to increase the survival rate of start-up enterprises. Week after week we get responses like “We need money, yes, but we are very attracted to the shepherding element of your model” or “we are continually discouraged because the financial institutions either say they do not fund start-ups or they take a very long time to tell us ‘no’ – I am told that CBET can help us”.

From a standing start of only five, sixteen months ago, our virtual CBET (Barbados) “family” now stands at over thirty – governance, management, shepherds, business advisors and entrepreneurs  – not to the speak of the extended family of the boards of each enterprise, the members of which have all bought into the innovative approach.

We have five enterprises which are benefitting from venture capital investment, six which are working towards their presentations to the venture capital board, over ten serious expressions of interest in the pipeline leading to seed capital approval and many other enquiries.  The Shepherding concept, which mitigates the risk of failure, is working well with unbelievable bonds developing between shepherds and their respective entrepreneurs. We are working towards further investments in the venture capital fund and inducing a meaningful partnership with the traditional financial institutions which are risk averse regarding start-up enterprises.

These financial institutions are concerned about the credit risk which is the risk of loss due to a start-up’s non-payment of a loan or other line of credit (either the principal or the interest or both). The default events include a delay in repayments, restructuring of borrower repayments and bankruptcy.  The financial institutions quite rightly have their risk assessment departments which evaluate the risks and make recommendations as to what degree of collateral is required, among other things, before the request can be approved. After all, they have to protect their depositors’ money.  However, more often than not the entrepreneur is faced with the mantra “we do not fund start-ups”.  Unfortunately, this stance does not help the start-up businesses and many a good business idea never sees the light of day.

The CBET Shepherding Model takes a different stance. Instead of accepting the fact that that the risk may be high and then trying to work around it with credit risk assessment and collateral requirements, it asks the questions “why is the risk high?” and “what can we do about it”?  The answers are that the risk is high because of weak management of corporate governance, marketing, operations, ITC, human resources and/or finance.  The CBET Shepherding Model introduces “Shepherding”, which strengthens the management to mitigate the risk. Shepherding then may be regarded as collateral to protect against the risk of failure. No shepherding – business as usual. Shepherding – lower risk against business failure.

The challenge is for CBET to partner with the traditional financial institutions and encourage them to introduce the shepherding concept so that they can mobilise the capital under their stewardship for the benefit of increasing the rate of enterprise development and, thus, national sustainable economic development. In this way love will be extended from the financial institutions to the entrepreneurs and through the sharing process this love would be reciprocated.

Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.