“The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head”- Mark 4:28

The Daily Word website reminds us that Divine Order underlies creation in all its forms. When the seed is planted, we imagine the harvest to come. Then, as we gather the harvest, we remember the seed and acknowledge the many stages of orderly growth and change from the time of sowing to the time of reaping.

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation planted the seed at its first Entrepreneurship SUMMIT in November 2010 which was heralded by glitz and glamour as the BEF launched its fundamental and distinctive vision (its DNA) for Barbados to be “The #1 Entrepreneurial Hub In The World by 2020”. The vision was nurtured at the November 2011 SUMMIT and at the third SUMMIT last week the BEF reflected, to a full house, on the vision as well as some distinctive strides which have led to some major accomplishments thus inspiring the audience as they dreamed of the harvest yet to come.

The BEF CEO, Damian McKinney, commented “There are two projects, in particular, that stand out as high public visibility activities. The continued support of the Wi-Fi initiative has given the foundation high marks for working tirelessly to achieve its objectives despite the hurdles and challenges. Also of note is the $20 Challenge project of the Education Pillar. It has proven to be an innovative approach to the cultivation of the entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of the educational system. It is also timely that this comes when we as a nation celebrate fifty (50) years of free education”.

Unfortunately, I missed the morning session at the SUMMIT last Friday, due to another engagement, but I understand that the quality of the presentations was uniformly stellar. It has been reported in the press that BEF’s Chairman Peter Boos, in his opening address, stated that the BEF’s bold Wi-Fi initiative has enabled free Internet access for 75% of Barbadians that would not otherwise be able to afford it. He beseeched the Prime Minister to open Government’s Wi-Fi so that we can instantly achieve 100% access for all practical purposes. It was further reported that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who gave the opening address at the SUMMIT, responded that achievement of 100% coverage can benefit from the collaboration of Government and he would like to let the members of the Foundation know that he was prepared to sit with them to discuss how the Government can make the achievement of 100% coverage possible.

When I arrived at the SUMMIT the participants were engaged in an interactive panel discussion. The panellists were business persons Bernard Weatherhead, Celeste Foster, Adrian Elcock and Wayne Clarke and it was very impressive to witness the harmony in the dialogue between these successful entrepreneurs on the stage and the budding entrepreneurs on the floor as well as the willingness of the business persons to share (“open door policy”) their experience in the interest of furthering the BEF vision.

One of the major benefits of the environment of the SUMMIT is the ability to network among the participants. At the lunch break such a window was created and we were not disappointed.

After lunch each participant had the opportunity to attend two breakout sessions and one of the highlights of the afternoon for me was the workshop on “Growth Strategies for Entrepreneurs” expertly moderated by BEF Director Derek Browne and at which Michael Potter, Co-Founder of Redwood Publishing made a very stimulating presentation. Michael was billed as “a genuine publishing innovator who always seems to break the rules and is totally original and unpredictable”.

He shared 20 very useful practical tips for entrepreneurs. His thesis was that each tip on its own is very simple but that collectively they make a difference. The tips are as follows (1-10): Work hard; never give up; get rest and recuperation; recognise ideas in strange places; write down the idea and learn to write in the dark; never write to do lists, always schedule a time to do a task; tackle the most difficult problem first; do not confuse efficiency with effectiveness; do not be afraid to make mistakes, they often constitute the opportunity; you cannot do it all yourself;… and then (11-20): make a plan for everything; set good bonus targets; be aware of the law of opposites; switch scepticism to pride; expect challenges to be difficult; turn disaster into opportunity; to persuade others never talk about yourself but about them; recognise that staff is the key to company success; be on first name terms with all employees; think how lucky you are to get them to work for you.

He noted the following Winston Churchill quote “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty

The day ended with feedback from the participants when a spokesperson from each table shared what their group promised to contribute to the BEF Vision and a tribute to dedication, diligence and application of Chris Harper the BEF Programme Manager for almost two years. Damian wished Chris him well, on behalf of the BEF, as Chris now moves on to pursue his own entrepreneurship agenda.

As the BEF gathers momentum over the next eight years to December 31, 2020, the BEF must remember its DNA, delineate interim annual targets, and acknowledge the many stages of orderly growth and change, over all five pillars (Government Policy, Business Facilitation, Finance, Education & Talent Development and Mentorship & Networking), from the time of sowing to the time of reaping.