“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch of their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord’.” – Luke 2:8-11

The birth of Jesus Christ is the foundation stone of the Christian faith. As we celebrate another Christmas season, the focus should logically be on the Saviour but we have been distracted. Christmas has become commercialised and we are consumed by Christmas trees, decorations, cards and gifts; sumptuous food and exotic drink; Christmas carol singing; all of which have their place, in moderation, as we bring Christmas cheer to one another. In the midst of all this we need to refocus on the Saviour and rediscover the message that without Him our security system becomes rather fragile.

Is it not significant that the message of the advent of Christ the Lord was delivered in the context of shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night? We are all shepherds; don’t we all have our respective flocks? Are or flocks not more exposed by “night” rather than by “day”? I can think of no better example of this concept than the pilot project, BIM Ventures, conducted over the last three years to debug the implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model™ in the Barbados environment with the assistance of the Barbados Government.

If I were not convinced before, now that we are three years into the BIM Ventures pilot project, there is no doubt that Shepherding, as exemplified in the CBET Shepherding Model™, is essential.

The concept of Shepherding is in response to the need to mitigate the risk of business failure. Start-up businesses fail globally at an alarmingly high rate and this is due to a failure in the management of the business and lack of timely access to appropriate financial instruments. What does this mean?

Management comprises the following five elements: planning, organising, staffing, leading and controlling. The functions of a business may be classified in five categories as follows: corporate governance, marketing, operations (technical, administrative, accounting, ICT), people and financial capital.

When one combines the five primary elements of management with the five primary business functions there are 25 cells in the “management of business” matrix. If any of these cells is weak then the enterprise is at risk of business failure.

The product/service idea may be presented by an inventor or an innovator, the latter ensures that the product or service is market ready. However, if the inventor or innovator does not have the inclination or the skills to be an entrepreneur, then an entrepreneur with passion and dedication must be found to run the business. If the entrepreneur is “in the dark” regarding his ability to convert the business idea with which he is charged into a commercial reality, then he needs the Shepherding process which consists of a shepherd and appropriate business advisors in order to mitigate the risk of business failure.

The BIM Ventures experience is that Shepherding is essential. If we ignore this, the failure rate will continue to remain at high levels; if we address it positively then the success rate will increase and there is a chance of contributing, with appropriate divine interventions, to the successful socio-economic development of the country.

We had a BIM Ventures Christmas Get Together last Wednesday night and what a wonderful occasion it was for those members of the family (inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, shepherds, business advisors, trustees and stakeholders) who were able to attend in the pristine and idyllic setting of the Graeme Hall Sanctuary by night. There was food, drink, business discussions, general networking, new relationships being formed and a general buzz throughout the evening. It was a microcosm of the wonderful buzz at two larger recent events.

The first was the Rotary Club of Barbados South’s Classical Best of Youth Concert at the Frank Collymore Hall, two Saturday nights ago, where we witnessed the magnificent performance of the St. Leonard’s Boys’ Choir and the Barbados Youth Symphony Orchestra performing together on stage for the first time. Opera Singer Amanda Fields was a highlight in the evening’s extravaganza. It was quite amazing to hear the after party buzz of compliments on the performances of the youth and their wonderful repertoire of Christmas and other renditions. The Rotary Club of Barbados South is now motivated to make this an annual fund raising event.

The second was the launching of a CD, “Scenes of Nostalgia”, by piano virtuoso Kean Springer accompanied by guest artiste Captain Alfred Taylor, on double bass, at the Barbados Hilton two Sundays afternoons ago. Bevan, a radio personality in his own right, flew in from New York for the day to MC the event for his mother jointly with Win Callender who was a radio commentator teammate with Kean at many calypso judging competitions over the years. The buzz in the after party was very indicative of the appreciation of the artistes recording theses renditions for posterity. Canon DeVere Murrell blessed the proceedings; the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Dr. Delisle Worrell, was the featured speaker; Kean’s “third son” Red Plastic Bag, delivered a masterpiece from his popular repertoire; and Mike Sealy, a long standing musical colleague of Kean’s, exquisitely showcased his skill on the guitar.