“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13

There is much lip service being paid to entrepreneurship in the local, regional and international press.  It is an obvious foundation for a sustainable solution to stymied economic growth because it involves the individual (with an idea), the basic unit of production in a country. Many projects, in a friendly enabling environment, can be started relatively quickly and the cumulative impact of many successful projects can redound significantly to the benefit of a nation.

This is especially so if the projects posses the “DNA of an elephant” (the potential to export to the global market and grow big). Even projects with the “DNA of an Ant” (destined to be confined within certain growth limits for whatever reason) can feed on the markets provided by the larger projects. Together these constitute an economic gearing system which, in its entirety, grows the economy of a nation.

Yes, the big hotel, marina, restaurant, manufacturing and entertainment establishments have their place but the attendant public and private bureaucratic processes carry with them a measure of inertia which inhibits speedy implementation.  This inertia is no stranger to the entrepreneurship concept either because we have been talking about this for ages and still we have not systematically addressed as a proactive strategy to remove the major constraint to entrepreneurship development in small states and emerging nations. There is no point having liquidity in the private sector system and no access to these funds in the form of a composite seed/equity fund to fuel the entrepreneurship activity.

The late Prime Minster David Thompson of Barbados had the vision when he launched the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Equity Capital fund, supported by the CBET Shepherding Model™, in November 2009. On that occasion he committed to provide an incentive to the private sector to capitalise a series of funds. This incentive was in the form of a government guarantee of the capital invested in the fund(s) by the private sector over the ten year life of the fund(s). The private sector was canvassed and was willing but, unfortunately, the Prime Minister passed away in 2010 before the incentive was formally passed by the Government and the idea died with him.  What a pity!

Now today Barbados is struggling to find measures to grow the economy and there is no consolidated enabling environment to mobilise entrepreneurship among the youth, among displaced public sector workers, among entrepreneurs in the making, as a contributor to economic growth.

On Valentine’s day, we were stimulated by a press release from Marketplace Excellence Corp. entitled “Entrepreneurship Key To Personal Enrichment and National Economic Growth Bahamas” which reflected on comments from economist, entrepreneur and motivational speaker Zhivargo Laing. I quote – The path to personal and national economic growth, for the most part, is the same, according to a leading financial specialist. Former Bahamian Finance Minister Zhivargo Laing says the key is “entrepreneurship” and he urges people to “look to the wealth of knowledge, experience, creativity and innovation they have to generate ideas that have the force of profitability.”

Likewise, businesses had to reach deep into “their reservoir of ingenuity to do business on new levels of excellence and pride, anchoring their every effort in the central objective of wowing customers.”  Governments for their part must treat business facilitation, growth and development “as a necessity for promoting the generation of resources to alleviate poverty, enhance the social safety nets of their societies, give young people a chance at education and opportunities, and develop their nations further.”

Laing, who is also an entrepreneur in the Bahamas, stressed “pro-business” policies of governments do not mean “surrendering the fate of people to the callous hands of the marketplace – but it does mean respecting the enormously powerful role those hands play in tilling the fortunes of the social earth.”  Furthermore, Laing, a motivational speaker, declared: “New business, more business, and better business is the primary need of the global economic environment. It is the cure for so many personal and community economic and financial challenges.”

Laing asserted such clarity is needed now as individuals and governments struggle in tough economic times: “If we don’t get this, we are missing the boat and the status quo will continue.” – end of quote. We Ignore Entrepreneurship at our peril!

These are times when we have to be fearless and free! We must adopt the position that our indomitable inner power comes not from our ego, but from the power of God within us. All our accomplishments are the result of team efforts. With God as our partner, no one or nothing can defeat us. Remember, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Let us accept the entrepreneurship challenge!

I am so passionate about this that I am now promoting the concept that “Nothing Beats Business Success”. We must remember that there is a formula for successful enterprise development which consists of three components. The identification and selection of DNA of an Elephant ideas out of which evolve innovative products and services – observation and experience has shown that there is shortage of these ideas.  The Caribbean Institute for Certified Management Consultants is mobilising the shepherding (life coaching and business mentoring ) resources needed to provide the necessary business management support.  The third component, the quick response composite seed/equity capital fund(s), which is needed for timely investment in enterprise development, is sadly lacking.

There was an aborted attempt in Barbados to provide these funds, Trinidad and Tobago have it on their drawing board and there are other initiatives by the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in Jamaica and the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation which provide partial solutions. Caribbean Entrepreneurs Association online helps to keep the issues alive.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org)