“The Lord is my strength and my might, and He has become my salvation.” – Exodus 15:2
We are spiritual beings mastering the human experience. As the Daily Word last Thursday reminded us: “Just as I nourish my body at mealtimes to remain physically strong, I nourish my spiritual strength through prayer and meditation. Prayer reminds me that God and I are one, that everything I need is already available to me. I connect with God’s mighty presence by affirming: My resilience comes from Spirit within. My strength is the energy of God.”
This applies to each and every one of us, together what a force we can become.
Last week, the Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados gave a quarterly update on Barbados’ economic performance and hosted a press conference. The Governor began by advising that he and the Minister of Finance had shared messages on the Barbados economy with the IMF, the World Bank, Washington think tanks and members of the international community.
These messages included: (1) Barbados has a custom made strategy for economic growth and stability and Government is pursuing that strategy resolutely and with full commitment; (2) There is a truly national consensus on the strategy of anchoring the exchange rate and supporting it by fiscal discipline; (3) Barbados is the most competitive country in this region, leading all others in the things investors care most about; (4) Barbados recognises the importance of practising a culture of excellence in order to achieve greater competitiveness; and (5) IMF policy prescriptions cannot be “broad-brush” but must be tailored to each country’s circumstances.
Finally, he shared that, among other things, Government “has secured assistance to get adequate finance at affordable terms for entrepreneurs”.
In closing the press conference, the Governor remarked that our future is in our own hands and reminded us that what we have to do is together come up with project ideas and innovations and market them to investors and bankers, at home and abroad, and give first class service at all times. The Governor concluded that “many have already shown the way in tourism, culture, international business, rum and alternative energy, among others, you know who they are. Let us be inspired by them to scale the heights ahead.”
The fact that the Government has secured assistance to get adequate finance at affordable terms for entrepreneurs was very good news. This is especially so since it follows less than two months after a workshop, hosted by the Small Business Association in collaboration with the Central Bank of Barbados, at the Central Bank, on the theme “Access to Finance – Debunking the Myths, Developing the Solutions”.
This workshop was designed to bring together key policy makers and financiers to examine and collaborate on the viable solutions needed to improve the environment for small business funding in Barbados. At that workshop, after hearing all the presentations and comments from the floor, one participant concluded that “there is much information among the participants present which can contribute to developing solutions but it is clear that the elements of leadership and coordination are missing”. I would add that there needs to be a reliable source of investment funding.
Although the Governor did not give details, I am assuming that his statement “has secured assistance to get adequate finance at affordable terms for entrepreneurs” means that the constraint of a reliable source of investment funding will soon be removed.
It was heartening to learn from the Governor about the economic messages sent to the international community by the Barbados government. In particular, message (1) on custom made strategies and message (5) on IMF broad-brush policy prescriptions. Will the Barbados government adopt the same messages when it comes to the design and implementation of the proposed entrepreneurs’ financing system or will they import an inappropriate loan financing model?
I raise this with more than a modicum of feeling having spent more than 15 years, with many teams of Caribbean colleagues, developing the home grown system, The CBET Shepherding Model™ – a selection system for entrepreneurs and enterprises to grow an economy; a shepherding system to mitigate the risk of business failure; and a unique benevolent seed/equity system to finance start-up enterprises, in particular.
The process began in 1998 at the Caribbean Development Bank where information was garnered on the constraints to enterprise development in 12 borrowing member countries of the bank. This resulted in the establishment of the Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET), a private sector led body in 2001. Three Central Banks in the region, five commercial banks, and the Office of Private Sector Relations in St Lucia funded the implementation of CBET which was financially self-sufficient up to 2008. At that time it was clear that the major constraint to the Model’s full development was the lack of a seed/equity fund for investment in enterprises, and the Barbados government was approached to assist with a process to test the efficacy of the Model.
The Government’s positive response led to the launch of the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund in November 2009 by the late Prime Minster David Thompson who promised an incentive to the private sector to invest in this fund. The incentive was in the form of a government guarantee of the principal invested in the fund. Unfortunately, PM Thompson passed away before the incentive was formally approved by government and the incentive idea died with him.
The operating rules and the detailed processes of the CBET Model and hence the Fund are available for immediate implementation. It is hoped that when the Governor reveals the details for the financing of entrepreneurs that we will not be reinventing the wheel.
Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.