“You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips.” – Psalm 21:2

As I reflect on the positives of the past year and take action now on a life renewal process for 2015, I am reminded of the following quote from the famous “I Have a Dream” speech by the late Martin Luther King Jr.: “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about things that matter.”

The history of the Caribbean reveals the significant role the region played in the colonial struggles of the European powers since the 15th century. The sugar cane plant was the main crop produced on the numerous plantations throughout the British Caribbean through the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as almost every island and the British mainland territories of Belize and Guyana were covered with sugar plantations and mills for refining the cane for its sweet properties.

The main source of labour until the abolition of slavery in the 19th century was African Slaves. These plantations produced 80 to 90 percent of the sugar consumed in Western Europe. This contributed significantly to the building of the British Empire. Then, there was a significant decline in sugar cane production to the point where there are now large stretches of idle arable lands with the corresponding decline in the rate of economic growth and an increase in health threatening and environmental enigmas. We have failed to find innovative ways of utilising the arable lands of the Caribbean to create another empire, this time a Caribbean Empire.

This is one of the things that matters, the use of our idle arable lands. If we become silent about it, our lives begin to end. Arable land is a major resource and we need to put it to good use. We need to renew our lives to end the day of silence on this matter and make sure that each uttering or idea does not pay only lip service to the issue but leads to change and to the productive use of idle lands. As we have seen in the British Empire, we can create a Caribbean Empire of our own to enhance the betterment of our people.

The business model which we need to activate should focus on the conversion of the uttering or idea, through an innovative process, to a product/service for sale, then to shepherd our entrepreneurs as to how to not only manage the business well (corporate governance, marketing, operations, HRD and finance) but also to secure the investment finance mix.

At the beginning of each calendar year I set a vision. My vision for the year 2015 is “Innovation in the Caribbean” towards a better future for us all.

In this my 74th year on earth, I am still refocusing my life towards innovations while fully realising that the corresponding responsibility for the sustainable success from the dream envisioned may well be largely in the hands of future generations.

The dream evolved in the United States last September where four of us, through a divine intervention, came together and the result was a Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution initiative. Quite coincidentally the age range of the group of four was 30 to 73 with an inter-age interval averaging 14 years, as if reinforcing the need to combine skills, innovation and experience as well as the importance of leaving a legacy.

The Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution is interested in growing the Caribbean economies through increased agricultural, agri-business and food and beverage (F&B) exports.

The group will operate as Global Business Innovation Corporation (GBIC). The GBIC team believes that the Caribbean can inspire the world, leveraging food as a business example and is proposing a year-round export driven thrust to complement the gains already achieved through other initiatives. When this global market is awakened by the advent of the Caribbean food experience, more of the idle arable lands will be brought into production.

The GBIC team has a four-pronged attack: (1) The Food Design skills and expertise of Foodlosofia (Mexico) will transform existing agricultural products and services into high-value food and beverage (F&B) experiences that meet the needs of consumers in the US, Canada, Europe and the world; (2) The skills and expertise of the Texas-based Open Innovation Services (OIS) will find and evaluate new technologies that are needed to develop new high-value F&B experiences. OIS will also create partnerships with foreign manufacturers and retailers who will sell Caribbean F&B products or license the formulae.

(3) The skills, expertise and Shepherding tools of Nothing Beats Business Success (Trinidad and Tobago) will ensure Caribbean businesses have the appropriate management of business systems in place to successfully increase governance, revenue, productivity, profitability and credit rating to support manufacturing and expansion of food and beverage products and experiences; and (4) the Public Relations and Communications skills and expertise of Marketplace Excellence (New Jersey) will promote the vision and progress of the Caribbean Food Business Innovation Revolution initiative.

For all this to happen it must be driven by all resources. Governments must invest in the manufacturers in the interest of increased economic growth, use of natural resources, net foreign exchange earnings, employment and taxation. The business community must invest in the manufacturers in the interest of increasing the circular flow of money in the economy and the greater prospects for profitability. The manufacturers must grasp the opportunity for sustainable success.

The GBIC team will be in Trinidad from Monday, January 12 to Wednesday, January 14, 2015 to launch the initiative.

Please contact me by email at basilgf@caribsurf.com for more details.

Through the power of God within us, may all of our dreams come true as we seek His blessing for the growth of a “Caribbean Empire”.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)