“Listen you leaders of Israel! You are supposed to know right from wrong” – Micah 3:1
Recently, I have reflected on my professional life and have concluded that innovation, the successful application of new ideas in practice, has been my driving force. Firstly, as Biometrician at the UWI campus in Trinidad, I had to establish a Biometrics Unit from scratch to address the experimental design and analysis needs of the faculty members and students involved in agricultural research; secondly, I extended the knowledge gained in St. Augustine to establish agricultural statistical units in each of the countries in the English Speaking Caribbean to meet the needs of agricultural research in the respective Ministries of Agriculture; thirdly, I was a Management Consulting pioneer in Barbados and developed Systems Caribbean Limited which offered services throughout the Caribbean; fourthly, as a Consultant with the Caribbean Development Bank I was mandated to develop innovative strategies to diversify the economies in the Caribbean which led to my involvement as a change-engine consultant with the private sector-led Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET); and fifthly, the promotion of the innovative CBET Shepherding™ Model, which encompasses the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund, as a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable business success.
So passionate have I been about my innovation initiatives that it really gets my goat when someone enquires of an innovative proposal “where has it been done before”? This to me is the epitome of conservatism, shows lack of vision, borders on disrespect and is a manifestation of a brainwashing experience which implies that little innovation can come out of the Caribbean.
ROOT CAUSE is an American non-profit research and consulting firm that partners with non-profits, philanthropy, government, and business to advance solutions to today’s toughest social issues. The challenge: Despite the massive resources devoted to addressing social problems in the United States, progress remains slow and fragmentary. Current resources are not being used efficiently and effectively enough and no one sector has the resources and the knowledge to tackle today’s social issues alone. The solution: Leaders from all sectors must work together in a new social impact market that fosters social innovation and enables collaboration across sectors and social issues to distribute resources based on performance.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as: “the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large”.
CSR came into common use in the late 1960s and early 1970s and is the honouring of a triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. If this triple bottom line can be secured then we are on the way to doing the best that we can do, on our way to sustainable development.
I can think of three sectors (telecommunications, commercial banking and airline) in Barbados where leaders must work together in a new social impact market to advance solutions to growth and sustainable development, where leaders must be innovative in the context of their CSR.
The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is an innovation as is its “11-11-11 ON” free Wi-Fi “from bus stop to rum shop” project. This project will happen but it can be made that much easier if the telecommunications companies’ leaders partner with BEF, with their innovative business model, to give free Wi-Fi to as many people as possible as soon as possible. By doing this you empower a larger critical mass of individuals who will be the target for more sophisticated commercial telecommunications services in the future thus contributing to the success of the triple bottom line and their CSR.
The innovative CBET Shepherding Model™ mitigates the risk of business failure and is promoted as a necessary and sufficient condition for sustainable business success. BIM Ventures, based on this Model, is being rolled out in Barbados as a means of growing the economy, one successful enterprise after another. This project will happen but it can be made that much easier if the Commercial Banking leaders partner with BIM Ventures by investing in the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund (with the promised Government guarantee on Principal invested) thus empowering a larger base of potential clients who will be the target for traditional commercial banking instruments as these enterprises grow, thus contributing to the success of the triple bottom line and their CSR.
Low fare airlines have innovative business models which reduce their overhead costs significantly and, the world over, are on average more profitable than the traditional airlines. Air travel becomes more affordable for a wider range of the populace thus widening their horizons from many perspectives. REDjet, The Caribbean’s Low Fares Airline, has established its headquarters in Barbados and expects to grow the travel market to the benefit of all other carriers born or yet to be born. This project will happen but it can be made that much easier if all relevant public and private sector leaders expedite the processes which are needed to get the airline safely in the air. The success of REDjet will contribute to the success of the triple bottom line, their CSR and redound to the benefit of the growth of the Barbados economy which is of course of interest to us all.