“Blessed are the ones who are generous, because they feed the poor” – Proverbs 22:9

Barbados, indeed the Caribbean, indeed many countries in the world are at ‘the crossroads”. What does this mean?  An Internet search reveals a litany of interpretations. One such interpretation is that we are in an unstable condition, as in political, social, and economic affairs.  In which direction should we go? The answer is to follow the leader.

The last two weeks in Barbados were absolutely awesome in terms of leadership revelation.  Those of us who have been associated with the development of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) in the last 18 months would have experienced the leadership style of our CEO, Damian McKinney. He has mobilised a cadre of local and international volunteers and the amazing achievements over the last year were all showcased at the BEF SUMMIT last Thursday and Friday towards the goal of “Barbados – the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020”.

The Prime Minister met the BEF last Tuesday and reaffirmed his unequivocal endorsement of the BEF mission. He promised to invite BEF to present its vision to Cabinet early in 2012.  In response to the question “which Ministry would you advise is  the Ministry closest to the portfolio of enterprise development?”,  he responded, after a moment of quiet reflection, by saying,  “The Ministry of Education”.  He justified it, like Singapore does, on the grounds that “our people are our greatest asset and we must develop them to the fullest”.

The SUMMIT was addressed by Peter Boos, BEF Chairman; Hon. Dennis Kellman, Minister of Industry, Small Business & Rural Development; Damian McKinney, BEF CEO; Neville Isdell , Former Chairman of Coca Cola; Sir Kyffin Simpson, Chairman, Simpson Motors Group; with Neville Isdell, Dereck Foster, Sir Kyffin and Peter Boos combining as a panel to field questions from the audience.

Hon. Dennis Kellman pledged the support of his Ministry as the work of the BEF evolves; Damian McKinney reconfirmed BEF’s commitment to its goal through the efforts of a growing number of volunteers; Neville Isdell stressed the importance of leadership and reminded the audience of what is the title of a book written by Thomas B. Smith: “If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me” with the subtitle, “How to Develop the Attitude of a Winner and Become a Leader”. This stresses how important it is for each individual to take on different levels of leadership as is appropriate at different levels of the organisation.

Sir Kyffin Simpson, in a rather modest manner, gave us an exciting tour of his business life,  thanking God for the gracious gifts that were bestowed on him and for putting him in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the many opportunties which were presented to him.

The Pillar Rotation discussions were rich in terms of exchange and content. The five Pillars: Finance Availability; Government Policy; Business Facilitation; Education & Talent; and Mentorship & Networking; reported on the Rotation discussions which will inform the plans and activities of the Pillars leading up to 2012 SUMMIT next November.

Dr. Cardinal Warde, a Barbadian, Professor at MIT , President of Caribbean Diaspora for Science Technology and Innovation (CADSTI) and Chairman of the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) was the final featured speaker.  CADSTI’s focus is on stimulating entrepreneurship in Science & Technology projects which is going to be a new wave for the Caribbean in the near future.  The CSF raises money for CADSTI through contacts primarily in the Caribbean Diaspora.

The Gala was addressed by Hon. Ronald Jones, Minister of Education who also presented the awards to the youth engaged in two projects facilitated by the BEF Education and Talent  Pillar. The one was the BEF $20 Challenge, aimed at Form 4 Secondary School Students throughout the island, who were each given a $20 ‘loan’ to create and start a business and operate it for a 5 week period; and the other was the Schools Challenge competition jointly mounted by the Rotary Club of Barbados South and the BEF.  The results from these two projects were absolutely amazing.

Let us borrow a few lines from the song “Greatest Love of All” –  “I believe the children are our future; Teach them well and let them lead the way; Show them all the beauty they possess inside; Give them a sense of pride to make it easier; Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.”  This was superbly exemplified in these two projects.

Dr. Ronnie Yearwood is a Barbadian lawyer who lives in London. He has prepared a dossier which was shared by email about a week ago. His concern is that Barbados needs a new Governance Model which means that the operations of the Political, Public, Private, Trade Unions and Civic Society sectors must be reviewed. The system to which we have grown accustomed is not appropriate for our foray into the future. We need new systems and new leadership paradigms. More anon. This is consistent with the BEF approach which may even serve as a model for the rest of the Caribbean and beyond.

The next three weeks promises a diet of introspection and conversion. BIM Ventures is going through a period of review and restructuring; The Caribbean Media Exchange for sustainable tourism mounts CMEx XX in St Thomas USVI after 10 years of service to the Caribbean; the Barbados Chapter of CICMC holds its inaugural board meeting; and the NCF programme “Know the Business of Your Arts” continues.