He will wipe every tear from their eyes … for the first things have passed away. … See, I am making all things new.—Revelation 21:4, 5
Today, this country celebrates “Errol Barrow” day in Barbados. It is the anniversary birth date of one of its most illustrious sons, National Hero the Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow. It was reported, one year ago, in another section of the national press: “It is important that we recognize in these troubling days the sterling record of this great leader. He was never given to excess of any kind, and pragmatism was one of his most obvious qualities. His work as a leader and his visionary achievements are not the only reason we have succeeded in steering our ship of state successfully through troubled waters since 1966; but we owe a large part of our national success to the clear and pragmatic vision of this undoubted National Hero!”
One year later, Peter Boos, Chairman of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation, commented in an article under the caption “Points to ponder when choosing a leader” in this paper last Friday: “As Barbadians prepare to elect their Government for the next five years, we are all considering our future and who should lead us in these very demanding times. We have challenges that are shaking the very foundations of our society. Integrity, compassion, trustworthiness, wisdom, discernment, fortitude, consistency, execution, principles, fairness – these matter and will overcome any challenge.
“Our problems are not economic. Our values are under assault. Integrity, compassion, trustworthiness, wisdom, discernment, fortitude, consistency, execution/decisiveness, principles, fairness – these matter and will overcome any challenge…New leaders will shun the cult of the hero. Instead, they will practise their leadership quietly and effectively. They will lead by example and commit their energies to the service of their wider communities. The situation calls forth a different brand of leadership. It is the quiet and authentic expression of better values that are most needed.”
We are still experiencing troubled waters and expert leadership is paramount. Leadership is not the preserve of Prime Ministers, Ministers or Private sector and Union leaders; it is a culture that must pervade all organisations and all levels in each organisation. It is the collective value-based leadership, about which Peter Boos speaks, at all levels of society which will redound to the benefit of the country.
In these troubled days, partially due to changes in the external and internal socio-politico-economic environment, changes may be experienced at the regional, country, business, community, family and individual level.
I am experiencing change in my life and the chances are that you are experiencing changes in yours. The one thing that I have learned is that one does not give up, keep persevering, with Divine guidance, and the mist will gradually lift and give you a clear vision of the landscape that lies ahead; with every sunset we shall experience a grand sunrise; and when one door closes another opens even wider than before.
Since I joined the work force several decades ago, I have always had a focus on the development of themulti –cultural, -ethnic, -lingual, -agricultural, -culinary, -vintner (exotic fruit), -genre, -religious, -landscaped and –seascaped Caribbean resource potential. My focus has been on the mobilisation of these resources and their conversion into a commercial reality to bring socio-economic advancement to the people of the Caribbean. This is manifested by the names of many institutions with which I have been closely associated. They include: The University of the West Indies, Caribbean Community Secretariat, Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Systems Caribbean Limited, Caribbean Development Bank, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc.
I have just spent over a week in Trinidad and again many of the names of the institutions with which I have been meeting all reflect a Caribbean focus they include: Caribbean Information & Credit Rating Services Limited, Caribbean Centre for Competitiveness and Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business (both affiliated with the University of the West Indies), First Citizens Bank (trading in the Caribbean), Entrepreneur Spirit Caribbean (magazine) and Microsoft (Trinidad &Tobago, Eastern and Southern Caribbean).
The problems inhibiting growth in each Caribbean country are basically the same as they are in many an emerging nation around the globe. Each country very often preciously and myopically guards its tiny business environment and then complains about the problems facing business persons and inhibiting sustainable business growth. Many of the institutions with which I met are now embracing a Caribbean approach to solutions to these problems in an effort to embrace efficiencies and economies of scale.
My observation is that everyone is in agreement that diversified enterprise development is the key to growing the economy. It is recognised that there is a fertile pool of promoters of enterprises with innovative products and services for sale. Systems have been established by CBET to conduct due diligence on the promoters and the enterprises. The major challenge is to establish a quick response Seed/Venture Capital fund; the way in which this fund will function has already been established by CBET. The third element, the management of business systems support service can be bought within or without (Diaspora or non-Caribbean resources) the Caribbean once funding is available. It is recognised that there is a market for simple tools for start-up enterprises to take them through the embryonic stages of business development. CBET has developed and tested these simple tools which are ready for implementation.
There have been many frustrated attempts to solve these problems but hopefully with a focussed Caribbean approach when one door closes, another opens.