“Commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed” – Proverbs 16:3

Last week, in this column, I commented that, as a matter of urgency, we must focus on a sequence of four outcomes. The Budget: I understand that Minister Sinckler, as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, is fervently leading the charge in this respect. The General Elections, constitutional due in less than 18 months time:  We have not yet seen the contending parties in full election gear.

The Strategy for growth: There has been a lot of positive exposure for entrepreneurs stimulated by the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (a private sector driven concept with full endorsement from Government, Opposition, Trade Unions and other members of civil society) which has very aggressive visions for Barbados. Training for our most important resource – the people:  This exists in pockets but needs to be coordinated and more closely linked to the manpower planning needs arising out of the growth strategy for Barbados as has recently been stated in the Government’s HRD strategy which is now being debated in Parliament. The resulting output of this sequence – Budget, Elections, Strategy and Training, will result in the BEST for Barbados.

Last week, I also alluded to the 8th monthly BEF Forum, entitled, “Harnessing the Power of Mentorship”, which was held last Thursday evening. We had a critical mass of 60 persons attending who were reminded of the vision of BEF and its entrepreneurship support pillars which are necessary for sustainable economic development.  This can be achieved through one sustainable enterprise after another driven by successful entrepreneurship programmes embodying support for the business idea through a favourable enabling environment and then by an optimal combination of management and money.

Members of the audience were reminded that: (1) Government Policy, Business Facilitation and Education & Training pillars create the enabling environment; (2) The Finance pillar facilitates the provision of money; and (3) the mentoring pillar ensures the optimal management of all of the functions of the business, ranging across corporate governance, marketing, production, human resource development and finance.

Indeed, good mentorship mitigates the risk of business failure and contributes to greater sustainable growth of our country. The mandate of the BEF mentorship pillar, which hosted the 8th Forum, is to identify and select existing and start-up medium and small enterprises; identify a mix of mentors who are willing, under whatever arrangement, to give their wide and varied experience and wise and valuable counsel to these enterprises; match mentors with selected enterprises; and monitor enterprise performance so that we can measure how quickly the traditional high failure rate can be reduced from 80+% to a much lower level.

The ultimate objective of the Mentorship pillar is to design an Enterprise Information System with a Dashboard which gives at a glance the energy generated by entrepreneurship towards the economic growth of the country.  The BEF is a facilitating agency and will partner with existing executing agencies to permit the BEF vision to evolve.

Talking about energy, it is a fact that if we were able to harness the entire solar insolation incident on Barbados in a given day and convert it into electricity, the resulting power would be equivalent to the power demand for electricity in Barbados for one year. We are now in the festive Crop-Over season and a lot of physical energy is being expended.

I was picking up my Aunt from the hairdresser last Friday and entered the Salon at an opportune moment to witness one of the hairdressers expending what appeared to be an enormous amount of energy, dancing to the rhythm of one of this year’s calypsos. Later in the evening I was able to stay awake long enough to observe on TV the first half of the pic o de crop finals where, again, as the camera panned the audience, one could see many patrons spontaneously expending tremendous energy dancing in tune to the music coming from the stage.

I did reflect, for a moment, on how we could convert that energy into electricity or, at least, how we could convert that energy into increased productivity in the workplace. My natural diurnal cycle did not permit me to see the second half of the show but it came as no surprise to me on Saturday morning when I awoke, to find that Popsicle, the lone newcomer to the Calypso Finals walked away with the Kia Sportage motorcar, valued at BBD103,700, a trophy, $10,500 in cash, and other prizes, after being crowned the 2011 Calypso Monarch.

I heard his first song, “Don’t Sell Cornell”, which apparently was advice given to him that no matter how long the recession he was advised not to sell his ass, that is, a donkey called Cornell. The crowd roared their approval when Popsicle sang His delivery of the cleverly written ‘Don’t Sell Cornell’; it indeed brought the Gymnasium alive. It was reported that he also kept that momentum in the second half with ‘I would Pick a Fair.’  I think it is the general opinion that this is what real Calypso should be like.  This expenditure of energy will continue over the Kadooment weekend.

The Crop Over festival, originally a celebration to signal the end of the sugar commodity production season, is now a fixed event in the festivals calendar of Barbados.  Let us focus on other ways to diversify products from the sugar cane plant or work like we playin’ mas’ in some other areas of economic endeavour to give an other than historical reason for our celebration.