“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.” – Psalm 84:3

Last week I promised to share interesting small economy innovations from the Caribbean Pacific Agri-Food Forum which took placed in Barbados two weeks ago. In the interim, I received a letter from an individual which distracted me. I decided to take a break from my agricultural discourse.

The content of the letter included the following: “I came across your company by accident and I am drawn into contacting you due to the interest that I have in the type of services which your company offers.” Since I am in the evening of my professional career, I was quite intrigued by the reference to ‘your company ‘. I then reflected that I still have my faculties and enjoy the finer things in life. I am not yet at the stage, as reported in Mark Twain’s autobiography, which states: “When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.”

The lady from the OECS, yes it was a lady, went on to say: “I am a PhD student and I am hoping to do my research in the area of business modeling and financing, and ultimately to offer consultancy services in these areas.

“My vision is to be able to help businesses, especially the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, to become bankable and to assist them in designing viable business models and in establishing proper structures that would support the operation of a well managed and successful business. My interest in this area is driven by my years working in the banking sector and the challenges I encountered especially in Credit/Lending from individuals who come in to borrow but are so ill prepared. My secondary interest is in seeing a robust small/medium enterprises sector that I believe is critical to the growth and development of our small economies.

“My hope, in contacting you, is to pursue any employment opportunities and/or internship opportunities that would provide me with additional hands on experience in the aforementioned area of interest”.

After sharing her professional qualifications, she thanked me for my kind consideration and looked forward to hearing from me. I Goggled her to learn more only to confirm that she is a well qualified and experienced banker seeking future holistic comfort in an area consistent with her vision. No wonder I was distracted by her professional interests. She had come to the right place.

I immediately pressed button “A” to replay my usual spiel. Like the advertising profession, I am beginning to see the concept take traction and will continue to be motivated by this success.

I went on to say: “My current mission in life is to promote ‘Shepherding’ (Life coaching for mind-set change and mentoring for the management of business systems) to the entrepreneur to mitigate the risk of business failure and secure the financial investment. Currently financial institutions who lend money, for the most part, require hard collateral as security. This collateral secures their depositors’ money but does nothing, on its own, to mitigate the business risk.

“This Shepherding concept is already beginning to take root. As it spreads, I envision that there will be a demand for shepherds who will go through a training of Shepherds’ programme. Given your background and interests, you may well find ‘Shepherding’ to be an attractive outlet for consultancy services.

“My colleagues successfully shepherded businesses in Barbados to test the efficacy of the process with very gratifying results. I actively Shepherd a few businesses (in Trinidad) with equally gratifying results. Shepherds are remunerated by the hour either through a national government incubator system (such as IBIS in Trinidad and Tobago) or through a private engagement by clients. Shepherding is seen as a capital good in much the same way as equipment, machinery, marketing, training and working capital and hence must be provided for in the same way. Indeed, I promote Shepherding as necessary and sufficient for sustainable business success and, in this context, it is probably the most important of the capital goods. We await the evidence to show that shepherding has reduced the risk of business failure.

“I am in the throes of writing a book ‘Shepherding for Business Success – A Guide to Clearing Obstacles along the Journey’ for entrepreneurs in the making, entrepreneurs (start-ups, rebirths, spin-offs, scale-ups), shepherds, investors, board members and policy makers.

“A national economy can only grow, one successful business after another. Each country needs to focus on enterprise development success if our economies are to be sustainable. You may wish to promote shepherding in your country as you pursue your PhD.

“The CBET Shepherding Model™ consists of three components: (1) Selection of enterprises with the DNA of an Elephant; (2) Shepherding; and (3) a Quick response revolving and growth Seed Capital and Equity/Loan capital fund. Component 3 is the most difficult to establish, not because there is no money, but because of the difficulty in accessing the money appropriately and on a timely basis.

“The operational procedure manuals are in place to successfully franchise this model. Policy maker vision and concomitant action are lacking. We still await a major breakthrough for the seed and equity capital for Component 3.

“Congratulations on embarking on your PhD. Let us continue the dialogue”.

As the sparrow finds a home and as the swallow a nest, we ought to aspire to a mind, body and spirit combined future environment of holistic comfort. Let the shepherds lead the way to put us on a path to economic growth and sustainability. Let divine energy sooth our spirit and let us all be at peace.

(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.)