“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” – Mark 11:24

Emergency management is the generic name of an interdisciplinary field dealing with the strategic organisational management processes used to protect critical assets of an organisation from hazard risks that can cause events like disasters or catastrophes and to ensure the resiliency of the organisation within their planned lifetime.

At this time of the year in the Caribbean, the hurricane season, one is very aware of the hazards of high rainfall, flooding and ferocious winds – “July, standby; August, a must; September, remember; and October, all over”.

Global Warming and Climate Change are increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. Barbados has already had two tropical storm watches over the past two weeks which quite fortunately did not transition into hurricane warnings until the storms had passed us and when they were nourished by the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. Trinidad and Tobago which is officially below the hurricane belt, were not that fortunate this past weekend according to a report from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, which reported heavy rainfall and flooding resulting in damage and dislocation in La Seiva, Maraval and environs in the North West.

I was challenged recently by a colleague, who is a beneficiary of the implementation of the CBET Shepherding Model™ in his own enterprise and who has an interest in disaster mitigation in small island states, to give my views on Disaster Mitigation and Entrepreneurship.  He found a paucity of literature on that subject and he was soliciting my views.

In business development, the nucleus of an enterprise is the idea or business concept which is provided by the inventor. The innovator converts that idea into a marketable product or service which can be sold to the consumer. The entrepreneur is then charged with the responsibility to make the enterprise successful by selling the marketable product at a profit. The Shepherding process supports the entrepreneur to mitigate the risk of business failure. This scenario is very familiar when nurturing start-up businesses in the pursuit of growing an economy, one successful enterprise after another, and there can be no doubt as to the importance of entrepreneurship.

In post disaster management, entrepreneurship is equally important. There may be damage and dislocation to businesses which can result in the loss of jobs and hence in the quality of life.  It seems logical that, even though there may be little statistical evidence to support it, especially in small states, as a preventive mechanism one should inculcate the entrepreneurial culture, rather than perpetuate the job dependency culture, in each and every citizen so that in the event of a loss of a job naturally or as a result of the disaster there is an entrepreneurial inspired recovery process that can be initiated.

In search of information related to Disaster Mitigation and Entrepreneurship, I found an article entitled “Disasters and Entrepreneurship: A Short Review” by Craig S. Galbraith and Curt H. Stiles. The conclusion to their article begins with the following sentences: “The scholarly literature that examines impact of disasters on small business and the role that entrepreneurial activities play in post-disaster recovery and

reconstruction is sparse at best. While there appears to be several distinct streams of literature that examine natural disasters from a macro-economic point of view, most of this empirical research tends to examine the issue of entrepreneurship and small business only in a tangential manner”.

The authors continue that “There are several ways in which entrepreneurial enterprise might play into the issue of disaster management: (1) a strong entrepreneurial

foundation may act as a mitigating buffer to reduce a community’s vulnerability

to disasters; (2) policies that emphasize small business development may offer an effective intervention strategy for countries suffering from chronic violence or slow onset disasters; (3) while the evidence points to both short-and long-term negative economic impacts from disasters, the entrepreneurial propensity within an affected economy may mitigate some of these structural economic problems; (4) entrepreneurial solutions may assist to mitigate some of the apparent unevenness

of natural disasters on certain socio-economic groups of people; and (5) disasters clearly have a negative impact on local small business, yet the evidence suggests that the impact may be more fundamental in nature. Understanding how small firms successfully respond within a post-disaster environment may be critical in framing future relief efforts targeted toward the local business community”.

In everyday life or in a post disaster scenario one must invoke the spiritual powers of faith and prayer to complement the entrepreneurship principles in the stabilisation or recovery processes, respectively.

In a recent press release, the USVI Department of Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty emphasised the importance of getting input from the Virgin Islands community in the design of a sustainable tourism development plan. “The future of the Virgin Islands is collectively our responsibility so it is crucial for all stakeholders to be involved in the process of creating this valuable road map,” she said.  In particular, the Commissioner encourages those members of the community unable to attend the strategic visioning sessions to watch the televised programs and share their feedback via a dedicated web site: www.usvitourismplan.com.  This plan is being built on an enterprise development platform thus inculcating an enterprise development culture which will be of benefit in fair weather or as a preventive measure for a post-disaster relief situation.