“When you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you” – Matthew 6:3-4
I always look forward to the Annual Sir Winston Scott memorial lecture mounted by the Central Bank of Barbados in November. I always marvel at the new ideas proposed which, if diligently acted upon, could make a difference. I am always equally disappointed that there is no national think tank which is mandated to take these new ideas and convert them into commercial reality, one sustainable enterprise after another, to foster sustained economic growth. Like Nero, we fiddle while Rome burns.
There is a plethora of examples and suggestions in the previous 37 treaties to which we have been exposed from Barbadians at home, Barbadians abroad, Caribbean experts and International authorities in various fields of endeavour. Last week Monday’s lecture by Dr. Victor Gooding SCM was no exception.
Dr. Victor Gooding, Barbadian Olympian and Senior Satellite Systems Scientist at Telesat Canada, spoke on the topic “View from 45 years North: A Barbadian Living in Canada”.
He said that “Barbadians living abroad have a role to play in restructuring Barbados’ economy and helping the island to weather the global recession…all stakeholders had to work together to tailor an appropriate response to the country’s fiscal challenges…It is important for the private and public sector to actively solicit, sponsor and encourage the assistance and inputs of expatriates like myself…Given the significant, diverse and extensive experience and accomplishments of our overseas nationals, I strongly believe that the unique perspectives and inputs from those abroad represent valuable and important contributions to the ongoing restructuring of the country’s social and economic platform…Bajans can talk a situation to death…They use all that brainpower and smarts to actually identify a solution in passing but then waste time blaming, criticizing or going off in irrelevant directions…impact of the recession had serious implications for us and it was now time for action”.
In terms of the resources in the Diaspora, he commented in a televised Discussion Forum the day after the lecture that the Government should do whatever it has to do to initiate a strategy that would incentivise the private sector to mobilise the expertise, experience and finance in the Diaspora, particularly to assist with financial investment in enterprises as the entrepreneurial revolution develops.
I noted in the press this week that The Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority recently concluded a three-city tour of the United States aimed at increasing investment by members of that country’s Diaspora. Has Barbados done the same?
In a pre-lecture interview, Dr Gooding stated that “As a scientist, I see four critical gates along the challenging journey to successful social and economic development: observation, conclusion, solution and implementation”.
In the last week, both in Barbados and in Trinidad, my observation has been that entrepreneurs, with a seemingly endless flow of innovative ideas, are bubbling with energy and passion in anticipation of getting their enterprises off the ground. I have also observed that, for decades, there have been two major hurdles in the paths of enterprise development (1) the lack of an adequate source of an appropriate investment finance fund with an accompanying fund management system and (2) the lack of systematic empowerment and business management coaching for entrepreneurs. I have further observed that there are global statistics which reveal the status quo that 70-90% of start-up enterprises fail in the first 3-5 years.
Since economic growth can only take place one successful enterprise after another, a failure to sustain enterprise development inhibits economic growth in each country of the world. My conclusion therefore is that we must find a solution which allows us to clear these two hurdles with ease.
I propose that the solution is the CBET Shepherding Model™ (I have heard of no other comprehensive option), all researched and tested, which has been promoted with significant interest. Like the ATMs nearly 45 years ago, which country or institution will be the early adopter? We had a bright and promising start in Barbados through the vision of the late Prime Minister David Thompson who supported the Model and launched the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund (2009) but his unexpected demise brought the operation of the fund to a premature end because others apparently did not share his vision as to how the excess funds available in the private sector could be mobilised to capitalise the fund. Some of those enterprises that participated in the programme are alive and well today but others were not resilient enough to survive after the premature severing of the umbilical cord.
I visited one of those survivors, Icon Studios Inc., in Barbados last week. I shepherded that enterprise in the CBET Shepherding Model™ pilot project (2009-2012) and was very gratified to see their progress. They have just been showcased in Trinidad’s Entrepreneur Spirit Caribbean magazine Issue 5 with the following opening comment: “Within the last few years the Caribbean has just begun to explore the digital landscape and all that it offers. The combined vision of Andrew Jemmott and Anton Shepherd birthed Icon Studios which provides services that range from e-Commerce transactions, mobile applications, software, media production to streaming and equipment rental”.
I recommend that the implementation step, Dr Gooding’s fourth critical gate along the challenging journey to successful social and economic development is implementation, is for an early adopter to take the Model and run with it. Criticism and blame are not on this road. What is required is focus on contribution and resolution.