“And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee” –  Exodus 23:25

On 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered an address at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. which was entitled “I Have a Dream”. It began as follows: “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.  Five score years ago, a great American (President Abraham Lincoln), in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.”

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”  It ended as follows: “…when we allow freedom to ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:  Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

On 28 June 1993, I wrote my first article in this series of weekly columns which was entitled “Barbados: The Singapore of the Caribbean”.  I was inspired right after my first real visit to Singapore that the story of the island state, a little bigger than Barbados, could be repeated here in the Caribbean and my dream was that Barbados could learn from Singapore and effect a similar economic transition.

According to Mr. Peter Ho, Head of the Singapore civil service in 2006: “At different times in its history, Singapore has been a hub for the region.  From the 7th to the 10th century, Temasek, as Singapore was then known, was a prosperous trading outpost… Temasek continued in its role as an emporium for the region and later slumped to what many writers have described as a “sleepy fishing village” until the advent of Lee Kuan Yew in 1959.  The rest is history.

In 1959 Barbados was way ahead of Singapore, according to any set of macro-economic indicators, and maintained that status until 1970 after which the gap widened to where it is today. Singapore’s GDP per capita is now of the order of a factor of three greater than that of Barbados.

I still have a dream for Barbados which is to achieve higher and higher levels of economic emancipation and hence a very high standard of socio-economic well being for its people. Various manifestations of this dream may be found in the fabric of my columns “Strictly Business” over the last 17 years and since the Singapore revelation.  More specifically, on Nov 15 2008, the board of Trustees of Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust (Barbados), referred to now as Bimventures, met for the first time, giving full recognition to the partnership between Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (the owner of the intellectual property rights of the CBET Shepherding Model) and the Government and private sector in Barbados.  This was followed on Nov 13 2009 by the launch of The Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund by the Prime Minister of Barbados.

The Bimventures extended family now consists of sixty people who are intimately involved in the thrust forward. These include: Trustees (4); Executive Management Committee (3); Entrepreneurs (13) in 10 enterprises; Shepherds (7); Business advisors (6); independent Board members of the 9 incorporated enterprises (27).

The E-team of private sector volunteers (local and foreign), including myself, will launch a new initiative on the occasion of its Inaugural Annual Barbados Entrepreneurial Conference (Tue 16/17 Nov) and Awards Ceremony (evening Wed 17 Nov 2010).  The E-Team has set itself the task, with the support of the Prime Minister and the social partnership, to develop Barbados as the number one Entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020 – a Centre of Excellence.

The concept is that Entrepreneurship, when supported by a well established foundation of the five pillars (Finance Availability, Government Policy, Business Facilitation, Talent & Education and Mentorship & Networks) has a great chance of success.

The dream continues to unfold.  John C. Maxwell, in his leadership promises, advocates: “Any dream worth living is worth sharing with others.  The person who shares his dream gets to watch it grow.  The synergy of shared ideas often takes it to a whole new level.  The dream becomes bigger than the person launching it ever imagined it could be. And those who participate in it often adopt it as their own dream. As you give others the opportunity to share your dream, paint a broad landscape for them so that they can catch your vision.”