“Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” – 1 Thessalonians 5:14

We have found that Entrepreneurs want to join Bim Ventures primarily because they want access to money through the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund. We explain that we are not here to provide money to pay debts or support their lifestyle but rather to help establish their business and help them realise their “DNA of an Elephant” potential which collectively contributes to economic growth in Barbados.

We invest in their businesses so that they can, for example, offset some of the shepherding costs, obtain equipment, develop a website, build a marketing and sales plan, gain access to raw materials and packaging, assist with the acquisition of a production or sales facility, provide working capital, build a distribution network, review technology; in other words, we invest in all activities which are designed to result in the earning of revenue for the enterprise.

Our investment may not be used to pay the entrepreneur a fixed salary of the entrepreneur’s choice. The entrepreneur can only receive a variable  monthly salary, if any at all, which is commensurate with the ability of the enterprise to generate enough cash flow from the revenue that is earned after paying all direct and indirect costs of the enterprise.  To the extent that the entrepreneur himself or herself provides services which are paid for as part of the direct or indirect costs, then that may be a source of earning for the entrepreneur.

We also explain that The Shepherding Process is an essential part of the package, which is designed to facilitate the establishment of the enterprise and the realisation of their “DNA of an Elephant” potential.  A shepherd is assigned to the enterprise and, together with other selected business advisors, is expected to guide the enterprise on a path to sustainable business success.

The experience which my colleagues and I have gained in attempting to implement the CBET Shepherding Model™ in Barbados over the last two years has been phenomenal and indeed inspiring.  We have shepherded ten businesses, in the pilot project, and collectively it has been a magnificent learning experience.

We have concluded from the information gleaned that the temperament of each entrepreneur varies considerably, each enterprise presents its own intrinsic challenges and the shepherd/entrepreneur relationships have ranged from explosive to controlled to sedate.

It has been recognised that for some entrepreneurs their appreciation for business organisation and/or management skills do not match their artistic and creative talent. Much care has had to be extended to them to mitigate the risk of business failure and establish the enterprise along the journey to sustainable success.  Then there are those who are willing to learn from the shepherding process which makes it easier to extend shepherding care. Other entrepreneurs have demonstrated that they do possess management skills in addition to their natural creative talent. These are sometimes the easiest with whom to create an effective partnership.

The enterprises themselves exhibit different characteristics. Some enterprises are in a position to earn revenue from inception and indeed many have been in existence before. Others, especially those driven by the Internet, may have to await the development of a website before they are in a position to earn revenue. Yet others may have to await some form of a development or marketing process before the revenue phase becomes a reality.  All enterprises will be dependent on either a personal selling and product fulfilment international distribution service or maybe social media marketing.

The experience garnered in the shepherding process has provided a foundation from which to enhance the systems of the CBET Shepherding Model.  The ever increasing number of entrepreneurs, who have expressed interest in being accepted into the Bim Ventures family, will undoubtedly benefit from these improved systems of care as they contribute to economic development in Barbados, one enterprise after another.  It has been said that “care” is the glue that holds relationships together and may I add that the “shepherding” concept in Bim Ventures context is no exception to this philosophy.

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s (BEF) activities will complement the Bim Ventures activities through its Entrepreneurship Pillar (Financing for Entrepreneurs; Government Business Policy; Business Facilitation; Talent and Education Development; and Mentorship and Networking) activities.

One of the most influential black businessmen in the United Kingdom will be in Barbados to share his insight and experiences with local entrepreneurs and business professionals. Piers Linney, CEO of Outsourcery, the UK’s first carbon neutral Unified Communications and hosted Information Technology solutions company will be the featured speaker at the fourth BEF Monthly Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Piers, whose mother emigrated to the UK from Barbados in 1962, has a rich history as an entrepreneur, founding his first business delivering newspapers at the age of 14. He started an Internet-based research business in 2000 and then later became Chief Operating Officer of a London-based online music retail, DJ management, radio production and events company.

This month the forum will be held at The Plantation Garden Theatre, St. Lawrence on Tuesday March 29th from 6:00-8:00 pm. Piers’ attendance at the forum was made possible by the support of the British High Commission.

Remember the African Proverb: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito”.