“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” – James 1:22-24

In 1993, sixteen years after I left the hallowed walls of the academic and research environment which is the University of the West Indies and plunged myself into the world of management consulting, I was still being described as a “visionary”. However, my goal was to be thought of as an action oriented being at the forefront of development. At that time, to address this conundrum, I was moved to author the adage “Vision without Action is mere Fantasy; Action without Vision is Folly; Neither Vision nor Action reeks of Irresponsibility; Vision and Action induce Synergy”.

This motivated me to continue to pursue my goal and has evolved to the implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model, a globally applicable concept, which I have the honour to lead. Indeed, the phrase “Vision and Action” is a prominent element of the CBET logo today.

I would humbly suggest that the message in the above biblical text may be similarly paraphrased as follows:  “If you let the Word go in one ear, out the other; You fool yourself you are listening when you are not; To hear and not act is to mirror glance and forget; Listen carefully to the Word, Act on what you hear!”  I think this is an appropriate adage with which to herald 2010 amidst all the challenges, perceived and real, with which we are faced.

Entrepreneurship is critical to the development of the Barbados economy and several initiatives are taking place. There are many local public statements which support the Vision that 2010 may be dubbed as the year of the Entrepreneur.

“Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson’s announcement on November 13 2009 of a government guarantee for the principal amount invested in the newly launched Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund is sweet news to the ears of the local, regional and international investment community”.

“Some prospective investors have already intimated that it would be difficult for them not to invest under these circumstances in the interest of national development, especially when the presence of a shepherd or business mentor will enhance the opportunity for the local businesses achieving sustainable success and because of the business’ eventual ability to buy-out the shares of the venture capital company.”

“Plans are for 35 to 40 local businesses to be identified over the next 12 months: As these businesses grow exponentially in the years ahead, we expect the venture capital company to experience sustained growth, obviating the need to invoke the government guarantee.”

I can report that BBEC has learned quite a bit from its pilot project with the first six entrepreneurs being nurtured according to the CBET model and that 50% have already qualified for Venture Capital funds.  The other 50% are expected to present their projects in the next month. Then we shall roll out the scheme at a projected rate of 6 new projects every 2 months.

There is a marked increase in entrepreneurs coming forward now that the Venture Capital fund has been launched.  There is also an increasing interest in the opportunity for shepherds and business advisors who themselves have an entrepreneurial bent in the way in which they offer their services. Individuals are responding to the notion that they should look for “opportunities not jobs” thus putting a greater emphasis on themselves to look after their future and not be dependent on others to do so for them.

On December 09 2009, it was reported that entrepreneurship is crucial to the economic growth and development of Barbados. This assessment was given by Minister of Youth, Family and Sports, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo. According to her, cultivating emerging entrepreneurial talent, particularly among Barbadian youth, was important to sustaining the global competitive advantage. She made the comments while addressing the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme’s (YES) “Evening of Entrepreneurs: Bajan Talent Exposed”. Five young Barbadians, who are contributing to the cultural industries, namely, Kenneth Griffith of Books R Tremendous; Dave Squires of DAPS Entertainment; Melanie Springer of Brownest Eye Productions; Kellie Cadogan of East Point Productions Inc.; and Adrian Green, an award winning poet and performer; were showcased.

There is also the Barbados Youth Business Trust which helps young entrepreneurs to get started. It is one of the leading youth entrepreneurship organisations in the Caribbean.  Watch this space for the Barbados private sector “E-team” initiative!

The CBET Model is generic in the sense that it lends itself to partnership with the public and private sectors of sovereign countries in the Caribbean and beyond. We are already getting enquires for fledgling enterprises outside of Barbados to participate in the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund. My response to these entrepreneurs has been that they have a greater chance getting funding if their country sets up its own venture capital fund through a CBET partnership with their government and private sector and that they should lobby for their county to follow the Barbados initiative.  The collective impact of several CBET initiatives will redound to the benefit of the development of the Caribbean as a whole.

Listen carefully to the Word, Act on what you hear!