“Seek His will in all you do and He will show you which path to take” – Proverbs 3:6

The last time I wrote an article with the title “Whither Barbados?” was at the beginning of the New Year 2010, almost two years ago. On that occasion I exhorted each Barbadian to recognise that he/she can make it through anything in the One who makes you who you are. He will stay alongside you with your troubles.

This time I have chosen the 45th anniversary of Independence to wish you Happy Independence and share some thoughts with you from a national perspective.  The last two years have been difficult for most countries in the world but of course, even in Barbados, there have been pockets of individual success and wealth creation. It is useful to record that successful Barbadian business magnate Sir Kyffin Simpson says that he gives full credit to Almighty God for his success and he urged local entrepreneurs to do the same.  He was speaking at the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation  2011 SUMMIT on Thursday 17 November where he said that he was neither a “genius” nor “an Oxford or Cambridge graduate” and added that
“where I’ve got to and where I’ve come from has been the good Lord putting me in the right place at the right time with the right people, the right products . . .”.

The classical business structure for enterprises is supported by five pillars: corporate governance, marketing, operations, people and money.  If these pillar functions are managed well then we mitigate the risk of business failure. If we perceive the country as a business then we can apply the same principles at the national level.  Indeed, in 1992, Malaysia actually established Malaysia Inc. as the model for running the country and the rest is history.  Barbados is well advised to do the same.

Corporate governance includes the relationships among the many stakeholders involved and the goals which guide the operation of the corporation.  The stakeholders of a country  the parliamentarians, the judiciary, the civil service, the trade unions, the private sector, the church, the youth and other members of civil society.

Dr. Ronnie Yearwood, a Barbadian currently living in London, recently presented a challenge to Barbadians as follows:  “What is the vision for our country? Where do you see Barbados going? What shall she look like? If what we have is what we want, then we probably have the political, social and economic institutional set up we deserve. But I must ask are we not better than what we have now? What is your image of yourself? What we have now is clearly not fully working to the best of our potential.

I have a vision for Barbados. I am sure you have one as well, and we probably share similar ideas. Let me share with you what I see”.

“I see a country that does not beg for handouts but makes her way in the world. I see a people that are industrious and creative. I see a country that can feed itself. I see

Government that is supportive and open. I see Government that creates a framework for enterprise and business to grow, so we can have sustainable economic development. I see discipline return to our schools and on our streets. I see grown up politics being practised and a unified country charting its way in this troubled world. I see the talents and skills of each citizen put to productive use. I see an open, fair and meritocratic society. I see us putting the best technologies at our disposal to drive clean efficient transport and energy systems. I see a return to a quality national health care system. I see a healthy environment, which we all protect because it sustains us. I see a Barbados that is peaceful and prosperous. I see a Barbados where we protect each other, and our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean from the vagaries of the changing world”.

Dr. Yearwood’s ideas have already sparked a lot of interest at the highest levels.  Let us change, let us change the governance system for the better, let us continue the dialogue with the view to convincing the politicians currently in charge to make a difference which will guide our processes towards a sustainable future.

The marketing and production functions go hand in hand. If we successfully sell products or services to given target markets we will have a sustainable economy. The productive sectors include: tourism, agriculture, financial services, business development services, creative Industries (e.g. film, music, fashion, fine arts, culinary arts and graphic arts), education, ICT, renewable energy, health & wellness and construction.

We have to develop our people and that means starting from our primary schools and focussing on management education and training right up to our tertiary institutions. Addressing management issues will mitigate the risk of business failure. The Barbados Chapter of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants is a potential force that needs to be nurtured.

Then finally we need to creatively mobilise the dormant financial resources in the banking system and put them to work for the mutual benefit of all concerned.  We need to mobilise the wealth in the Diaspora. The Caribbean Diaspora for Science Technology and Innovation has already been able to take steps in that direction.

The BEF is playing a facilitating role to address these issues.  The challenge now is to mobilise the public and private sector agencies to execute.

There has always been the sleeping giant, the “Barbados as a Donor Country” concept which needs to be awakened. Let us bury the conservatism and be more aggressive in implementing change.