“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave” – Proverbs 12:24
The recession has left its mark. Some of us are comfortable and apparently relatively secure but many of us are living in a daze wondering how soon will be the day when we are faced with the reality “how am I going to support my family?” There will be some challenges, but there are many opportunities. In order to access these opportunities, not only might we have to undergo a mind set change and perhaps a skill set change but we might even need to engage in cross-cultural communication change as we attempt to access global markets. We will certainly need to change to an engine that will give us rapid economic transformation. I am really blessed, with other like-minded people, to be involved in the thick of it all.
Firstly, there is the Barbados Business Enterprise Corp. (BBEC) which consists of: access to the intellectual property rights of the CBET Shepherding Model™; interaction with many start-up enterprises with the “DNA of an Elephant”; and the establishment of a new financial support system through the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund (BIM Ventures). This system is incredible in that at no point within the system is the entrepreneur financially exposed; instead what the entrepreneur is asked to do is to give up a fair share of the equity in his/her enterprise in return for investment capital, to work diligently with the shepherding process and their Board of Directors to develop their business idea.
Secondly, there is BusinessBarbados.com which is a comprehensive electronic investors guide covering all aspects of relocating your company or family including accounting, finance, legal, real estate and taxation issues. Whereas, Barbados is recognised globally as a vacation destination, Barbados has also attracted business and investment interest because of its fiscal conservatism, respect for law and order, excellent infrastructure and democratic traditions.
Thirdly, there is the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) which promotes “Barbados as the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020”. Even though this initiative may be focused on Barbados initially it has already exhibited signs of engendering a pull-factor for the rest of the Caribbean. Following on the first SUMMIT 2010, there are ten other annual November SUMMITS culminating in 2020. There are monthly Fora, each with a separate focus either featuring a successful Barbadian entrepreneur, local or from the Diaspora, or a presenter elucidating our goal which is to create an enabling environment for sustainable business development through advancing best practices in the areas of Finance, Government Policy, Education and Skills, Mentorship and Business Facilitation.
The next BEF Forum will feature Chiryl Newman (Owner/Manager of Champers Wine Bar & Restaurant) who will address “Dispelling the Myth” – Women in Entrepreneurship. This will be held on Tuesday 24 May 2011 at 6pm at the Plantation Garden Theatre. Come join us for a wonderful evening of exchange and networking. What a joy to participate in these three exciting forays in Caribbean development!
A strong entrepreneurial culture must be developed to take advantage of the changing environment. Travis Oberlander is an entrepreneur and start-up geek based in Los Angeles. Travis is chief editor and founder of thestartupcafe.com, where he covers Los Angeles start-up news and culture. He has learned five lessons in the process.
(1)Focus on the industries for which your country is known and involve the leaders of those industries in the start-up ecosystem. Dr Keith Nurse, Coordinator of the Creative Industries Exchange at the UWI campus in Barbados has stated in the publication Caribbean Creatives (www.creativeindustries.com) that “The Caribbean region for decades, has produced many global recognisable artistes, artists and cultural events that have global reach beyond what the region’s size would suggest. Barbados is no exception. Rihanna is testimony to this”.
(2) Encourage entrepreneurs to physically work in an incubator environment where they can easily discuss issues as they arise. The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation manages an incubator.
(3) Build relationships through Mixers, Get Togethers and Fora or other “outside of the box” activities. Businessbarbados.com, BIM Ventures and BEF are already active in this area. The Limegrove Lifestyle Centre space, made available to BIM Ventures, will facilitate this process.
(4) Attract a vibrant Venture Capital environment. BIM Ventures has established a Quick Response VCF. Indeed, Dr Nurse also reported in Caribbean Creatives that “Going forward it is important to note that that the business environment for the creative industry sector has suffered from a lack of investment capital, managerial talent, business support and a weak institutional framework in terms of industrial, trade and intellectual property policies. In this regard, the role of BBEC in funding start-up enterprises in the creative sectors is a welcome addition to the policy landscape”.
(5) Finally, realise that as a community we are all in this together. Openly support new entrepreneurs or start-ups in need of help. Also, don’t be reluctant to celebrate the successes of others. This is what BEF is all about.
Singapore has demonstrated phenomenal growth in the last four decades by rolling out the Singapore Advantage – Connectivity, Openness, Reliability and Enterprise (CORE).
Even more recently Malaysia has demonstrated phenomenal growth through their National Development Policy to become a fully developed nation by the year 2020.
Barbados is on our way to building our own start-up community – what can we learn from the experiences of these two countries and from others?