“Jesus said to him:  If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes” – Mark 9:23

The month of July always heralds the advent of two personal anniversaries first the anniversary of my birth in 1941and the anniversary of the advent of this weekly column in 1993.  It also heralds the beginning of a new Rotary year for Rotary International, the world’s first service club which was founded on 23 February 1905. In 2012-2013, the Rotary International (RI) President is Sakuji Tanaka from Japan and the RI motto is “Peace through Service”.

Barbados falls in RI District 7030 encompassing 14 countries in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean from St Kitts and Nevis in the North to French Guyana in the South. The current District Governor (2012-2013) is Capt. Hervé Honore from Martinique and the assistant Governor for Barbados is Past President Katrina Sam-Prescod who incidentally was the first female President of a Rotary Club in Barbados in the Rotary Year 2010-2011. She was President of the Rotary Club of Barbados South.

The recently installed Presidents of the three Barbados Clubs are Tony Williams, Skip Bates and Sonya Alleyne from the Barbados, Barbados; Barbados West; and Barbados South, clubs respectively.

RI up to recent times was a male dominated global service club. However, the influence of the national motto of France “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” seems to have infiltrated the male chauvinistic veil of the Barbados Clubs, since in addition to Katrina and Sonya, Brenda Pope was the first female President of the Rotary Club of Barbados, Barbados in 2011-12.  The veil of the Rotary Club of Barbados West seems to be of greater tensile strength and has not yet been penetrated. These three powerful female personalities, each in their own way, have established equality in no uncertain terms with their male counterparts demonstrated through their powers of free thinking and their ability to engender a spirit of “brotherhood” among their colleagues.

Indeed, President Irving Burrowes, who has just completed his term as President of the Rotary Club of Barbados South, was sandwiched between Katrina and Sonya.  He probably recognised the pressures on either side and stepped up his game to such an extent that he had an exemplary year.  The égalité fraternity will, of course, recognise the consummate support which he received from his wife Ayo throughout the year.

The function at the Accra Hotel last Saturday night (my birthday) to effect the transition from one President to another was a grand affair and extended well into the evening with satisfied expressions on the faces of all of the attendees as they wended their way home.

A fellow Rotarian sitting next to me at the Installation function asked me how did I celebrate my birthday to which I replied, I am celebrating it now, and furthermore I celebrated it last evening as well at a similar function at which the Information Society of Barbados honoured Brenda Pope for her significant contribution to the development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Barbados.

Brenda has over thirty-three (33) years’ experience as an ICT and business performance consultant., 17 years at Systems Caribbean Limited, where I hired her soon after graduation, and 16 years at KPMG.  Her experience spans a wide range of Caribbean private and public sector clients in general insurance, banking, commerce, hospitality, finance, manufacturing, transport and social security.

Brenda Pope is now the Senior Advisory partner at KPMG Barbados with specific responsibility for ICT, Business Performance and HR Management services.  She also holds overall responsibility for Management Consulting services provided across The OffShore Group of KPMG’s island network of firms.

I concluded that I have been celebrating all week beginning with a brandy last Sunday morning at my nonagenarian uncle’s house on my weekly visit with him.

My birthday week was very significant because it was a week when, professionally, there were a number of proposals on my plate to be completed and submitted  and I also attended meetings which I believe are destined to secure my professional life support systems for the near and medium term future.

In this context, there was an interesting meeting mounted by the Ministry of Industry, Small Business and Rural development during the week. The challenge is to rationalise the Government services in support of enterprise development which are now offered by many diverse institutions even under different ministries of Government and by NGOs and the private sector. The proposed solution is to arrive at a one-stop-shop system which would be beneficial to enterprises (micro, small, medium and large) which constitute the economy of Barbados. This system would remove the “confusion” that often exists when seeking business management related advice and sourcing appropriate funding for a business.

I pointed out that start-up businesses may often have the potential to contribute to the growth of the economy. They are seldom able to attract funding from the traditional sources because of their high risk. Hence the importance of a “benevolent” Venture Capital fund.  I also mentioned that globally start-ups fail at the rate of 90% in the first five years of operation and that this may be alleviated by the introduction of the shepherding process which mitigates the risk of business failure. In other words I made the case for the adoption of the CBET Shepherding Model™ as a means of supporting start-up enterprises. Indeed, all things can be done for those who believe.