“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God” – Hebrews 12:15
The Caribbean Business Enterprise Initiative (CBEI) was designed as a “Caribbean Catalyst turning Concepts into Commercial Realities”.
The CBEI then assumed a corporate cloak in the form of the Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. which now owns the intellectual property rights of the CBET Shepherding Model™. This model consists of three components: (1) A Start-up or Emerging Enterprise with the “DNA of an Elephant”; (2) The Shepherding process which mitigates the risk of business failure; and (3) The Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund which provides timely access to innovative finance in two complementary phases.
A start-up “DNA of an Elephant” enterprise implies prospects for global exports in the medium term thus contributing to economic growth. We cannot grow Barbados, or any other small or emerging nation for that matter, on its own market foot print since the consumption potential is too small.
A review of the global literature over the years reveals that the average business failure rate of start-up enterprises is alarmingly high which generally and logically militates against sustaining a high rate of economic growth. The reason for this is weakness in management and the hypothesis is that this problem can be addressed through an effective mentorship programme.
The Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund (BIM Ventures) – www.bimventures.com consists of two complementary elements, phased one after the other: The Quick Response Seed Capital Revolving and Growth Fund (SCF) and the Quick Response Venture Capital Fund (VCF).
It is now two years since the first enterprise was accepted into the BIM Ventures family through the SCF phase. Since then, 11 other enterprises have joined the family and two have departed prematurely, for different but specific reasons, before they got to the VCF phase.
It is now 15 months since the first BIM Ventures VCF investment was approved which triggered the start of the VCF phase for the enterprise. Since then, eight other investments were approved (100% success) and one other is expected to be presented the VCF Board shortly.
Today we shall focus on the mentoring element of the model where input may come in three forms: angel investing, voluntarism or shepherding.
An angel investor is an individual (or group of individuals) who provides capital for a start-up enterprise usually in exchange for ownership equity. The angel may also have the time and experience to provide mentoring services to the entrepreneur. In the event that the angel investor only has the money then a complementary mentoring (voluntarism or shepherding) service will have to be sought so as to mitigate the risk of failure.
The volunteer mentor agrees to give back to society but the time available to mentor the enterprise is controlled by the volunteer(s) and may or may not be enough to service the entrepreneur on a path to sustainable success.
In the shepherding process, the shepherd, complemented by business advisors (in specific disciplines), is paid as an outsourced resource with a specific mandate to grow the company and within a year bring it to the point where it can make projections for the future and realistically value the shares of the enterprise to determine the VCF stake in the company. This capacity to care for others, converting failure into success, gives life its deepest meaning.
Last week a colleague sent me an article entitled “How can I tell if I am failing at my entrepreneurial venture or start-up?” by Marc Cenedella, the Founder & CEO of TheLadders.com. The first paragraph was: “There is an old joke about how to make a small fortune in angel investing: start with a large fortune and invest it in angel rounds”.
The article continued: “I guess you could say the same thing about how to fail at an entrepreneurial venture: start a new company and then do everything that could be reasonably expected of you… that’s how you fail! The world is not set up to make your venture successful, and in fact almost everything conspires against you and your new company. Because there is no natural constituency for the entrepreneurial venture, there is no reasonable way you can expect yours to survive. Customers are not clamouring for new vendors, employees aren’t looking to make half as much for their hard-earned skills at a firm that has a 50% chance of dying every day, and investors are not interested in taking risks or putting money into pipe dreams. The conceit that a new venture has a shot of winning at all, under any circumstances, was unknown throughout history, is still laughable across the globe, and remains rare even here in the United States.”
In order to achieve growth, however, we have to create special circumstances which are favourable to the potential success of the business which has the “DNA of an Elephant”. The article observed that: “While it is never easy to tell which businesses and which people will win big this time around, it is pretty easy to tell who is going to fail. It is the polite, patient, purposeful people”. A successful entrepreneur requires a passion, a craving to see the business come to life, long hours, a determination to succeed, perseverance and a high Adversity Quotient; all this in partnership with the mentoring environment which will provide the high Business Intelligence Quotient needed to complement the talents of the entrepreneur.