“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth” – Proverbs 27:1
Over the last week there has been a continual global outpouring of sympathy to the family of our late leader. There have also been reflections on his relatively short life (Hon. Tom Adams 55; The Right Excellent Hon. Errol Barrow 68; Hon. David Thompson 48 – the Barbadian Prime Ministers who have died in office) through experiences shared by those who have been associated with him in the many spheres of his endeavours and periods of his life.
There have been replays of many television speeches and interviews, the content of which secure for posterity the quality and quantity of his legacy. It appears as though each Barbadian has been positively impacted by the messages from our late PM and has his or her story to tell. The populace has been invited to pay its last respects by filing past his body and signing the condolence books; they have responded in numbers. All of this activity reveals the greatness of the man and challenges us to accept the responsibility to build on the foundation of his ideas as we do justice to his legacy.
My own professional interaction with the late PM was immediately prior to and post the 2008 general election. Prior to the election I met him at a function at my neighbour’s house where he volunteered to me that my weekly column was not going unnoticed. Co-incidentally, at the same function Hon. Freundel Stuart, quite independently, mentioned that he and a group of colleagues were discussing the subject of one of my columns the night before. Very gratifying indeed!
Maybe these statements gave me the courage to approach the new Government after the general election to seek their support for the cause of entrepreneurship as a likely significant contributor to sustainable economic growth. My proposal was positively received by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in April 2008 and was I asked to contribute to a Cabinet paper on the subject.
In the interim, I shared with the PM some information in a column on “The Global Food Situation and its Impact on the Caribbean” by Caribbean professional Chandra A. Madramootoo Ph.D. His response was: “Dear Basil, I read you on Monday and I agree. We were to meet and I profusely apologise. There were some pretty pressing travelling engagements and a few other urgent matters. Will call you after April 25, so we can discuss the matter. I enjoy your columns very much. And Bevan’s. David Thompson”
On May 27, I received a message from the PM’s Blackberry: “Basil, I’m out until June 01 but will set it (a meeting) up thereafter. Darcy gave me some stuff on venture capital that I am working with him on… Want to discuss that with u. Will get in touch on my return…David”.
On July 03 2008, four days before his presentation of the 2008 budgetary proposals, the Prime Minister sent me an email which said: “…You will be pleased with at least one section of the budget!! All the best, David Thompson”. I listened attentively and patiently to his budget presentation on radio and, on what turned out to be page 97 of a 126 page presentation, my curiosity was satisfied. He said: “Now onto Innovation!
A national imperative is to grow the size of Barbados’ economic cake and increase the net growth rate in order to: induce sustainable economic growth; boost energy and food security; increase foreign exchange earnings/savings; generate employment; reduce poverty; enhance returns to individuals, commercial banks, private
sector businesses, trade unions and Barbadians of the Diaspora. This can be achieved through a national focus on developing a family of successful high performance enterprises, one enterprise after another.”
He continued: “Government therefore proposes to establish the Barbados Quick
Response Revolving Seed Capital Fund (SCF) and the Barbados Quick Response Venture Capital Fund (VCF).
At the Launch of the Venture Capital Fund on Nov 13 2009 he said: “I am pleased to announce that the Government will provide a guarantee on the capital amount invested in a bond issue by CBET (Barbados), as a means of capitalising this Venture Capital Fund.”
On May 03 2010 the E-Team, a group volunteers, received the following letter:
“I have reviewed and discussed in detail the exciting plan for Entrepreneurship Development in Barbados as presented to me recently by a group of experienced local and international business visionaries, who, for the sake of convenience are referred to as the E-Team… I am very pleased to lend my Government’s full support to the Vision of the E-Team to transform Barbados into: The Number one Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020. This is the type of ambitious forward thinking initiative that we need in all sectors in Barbados to enable us to fulfil our potential as a Global Business Economy with strong foreign exchange earning sectors… I am requesting that you give this important strategic transformational project your full support as my Government is doing…Let us work together to make Barbados a dynamic world-class Centre of Excellence for Entrepreneurship.”
Hurricane Tomas has reminded us that we shall not boast about tomorrow, for we do not know what a day may bring forth. However, as leaders the E-Team must now uphold and systematically implement, in partnership with Government, The David Thompson Legacy of Entrepreneurship.