“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: – Ephesians 1:1
Mainland China is a single country but it is socio-economically demarcated by the rich and the poor. In Barbados, we are blessed and are not faced with such a marked division since every Barbadian has the opportunity to reach to a higher rung on the economic ladder and pull himself/herself up within a generation. In Barbados we must strive for continuous improvement to protect ourselves against the vagaries of an uncertain external environment.
Last week Sunday night I was watching the local programme “The People’s Business” on CBC television. On the set there were two officials from the local Chinese delegation with the local moderator. They were asked to comment on the major foundation pillars which were responsible for China’s growth.
The answers, not surprisingly, included (1) a clear strategic vision; (2) a strong policy framework in support of the vision; (3) a supportive civil service to implement the policy; (4) a sound educational system at all levels; (5) good international relations with the rest of the world; (6) a systematic and evolutionary approach to development where the positioning of the next step is informed by the experience gained in the immediate previous steps; (7) a dynamic investment climate; (8) a diversified export thrust; (9) import substitution leading to increased domestic consumption; (10) redressing the trade deficit with other countries; (11) the alleviation of poverty; (12) a rating among the first 100 countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita, in spite of its large population and high percentage of poverty.
When asked how China could assist in the development of Barbados, the response was, “by continuing to provide loans and grants in support of Barbados’ development; to lure the tens of millions of Chinese tourists to the “paradise” of Barbados as a tourism destination; and to encourage entrepreneurship in Barbados so as to redress the current imbalance in trade between the two countries.”
What I learnt from that dialogue was that, in the same way that China has transformed its economy towards becoming the largest economy in the world in the near future; Barbados can accept the challenge to become the No. 1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020. This “Moon Shot” will soon be aggressively promoted by the E-TEAM.
Barbados has a strategic vision (there are not many options) but its public and private sector leadership, despite having a strong policy framework in place, has not been successful in converting that vision into action at the rate at which it could have a significant impact on the growth of the economy.
It has been said that the well established Barbadian civil service does not support entrepreneurial activity to the extent that it should, even though the ability to sustain a civil service depends on government taxation which comes from the success of the entrepreneurial activity itself.
Barbados has been blessed since the days of the missionaries to have the foundation for a well established educational system. Unfortunately, the level of reading and comprehension is rapidly decaying. This must be arrested forthwith if we are to have a sustainable future. The new educational system from primary school must introduce entrepreneurial development appropriately in the various curricula.
Barbados has demonstrated strong leadership in establishing reciprocal relationships with other countries of the world to facilitate the free movement of people. We must now leverage this as we seek to infiltrate the global market through entrepreneurial activity.
In revisiting its branding, through the development of Centres of Excellence in many areas as is proposed by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it is going to be important for Barbados to follow a systematic evolutionary approach in such a way that we follow the philosophy: “Start Small; Do it Right; Make it Happen; Then Expand”.
Barbados must continue to promote foreign direct investment as it evolves on the journey to becoming the No. 1 Entrepreneurial Hub. Barbados has succeeded in its rum exports but has failed to exploit the potential benefits in value-added cotton. In the food sector alone Barbados imports more than BD$500 million, much of which, with the appropriate entrepreneurial support, can be reduced through import substitution and encouraging consumption of domestically produced goods. The balance of trade also has to be addressed through increased entrepreneurial activity in the non-traditional sectors. Barbados is again blessed in that it does not have high levels of abject poverty which have to be addressed. Because of its low population Barbados should be able, with a moderate rate of expansion, to achieve a relatively high GDP per capita rating.
In the words of J.C. Maxwell: “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 greater than the person launching it ever imagined it could and those who participate in it often adopt it as their own dream. As you give others an opportunity to share your dream, paint a broad landscape for them so that they can catch your vision.”
The E-Team is about to share its dream with the whole of Barbados as it releases its plans, one year after another, to make Barbados the No. 1 Entrepreneurial in the World by 2020. We invite you to join in the thrust of the positive tsunami.