“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
– Luke 12:32
Among the social partners, the role of government is “policy” and “service” and the role of the private sector is “investment” and “business”.
There is often an abundance of investment funds in the private sector and there is often a plethora of sound business ideas in a given country. The challenge is for governments and the private sector to agree on and establish an enabling environment policy which will attract the private sector funds to these potentially viable projects, in such a way as to minimize the risk and hence increase the chances of business success due to the investment. In this scenario, when a series of businesses win, the country wins, and when the country wins we all can win.
The innovation which can help clear obstacles along the journey to business success is the Shepherding process. The Shepherding tool, ManOBiz™ Matrix, facilitates the mentoring of the entrepreneur on his/her mind-set change as well as on the management of business systems.
In particular, if a business does not have the protection of a user friendly investment finance source(s), it is unlikely to satisfactorily complete the journey to sustainable business success.
In November 2009, the then Prime Minister and Minister of Finance now the late David Thompson, launched the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund (BEVCF). Even though the project got off the ground and nine projects benefited, it was not sustainable without an incentive being in place. This was not considered a priority of the Barbados government since then.
This past week I was invited to sit on the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority (BCIDA) Symposium panel of investment assessors at a Pitch session involving 10 entrepreneurs at the Hilton hotel. It was a very stimulating experience for the assessors and, based on informal individual feedback afterwards, the entrepreneurs too were captivated by the interaction.
As expected, the primary frustration of the entrepreneurs was poor access to investment finance for their fledgling businesses.
Since the establishment of the BEVCF, there have been many improvements to the Shepherding concept. One of these is to remove the dependence on the government incentive and to promote directly to the private sector that “Shepherding reduces business risk and secures the financial investment”. Since this addresses the concern of private sector investors, “high risk”, this innovative thinking is expected to gain some traction. Maybe BCIDA will be the first entity which will allow this innovation to take off.
It should be noted that providing collateral either with “hard assets” or, as has been recently suggested, “the use of intellectual property”, does not affect the business risk, it is merely an attempt to protect the investors’ capital. Shepherding, on the other hand, reduces the business risk across all business systems (governance, finance, marketing, HRD and operations) and, by doing so, also secures the investment.
Another positive element is the introduction, in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, of the Shepherding Innovative Growth Squad (SIGS), consisting of teams of experienced business persons, conscious of their corporate social responsibility. Hence there is no charge at the point of delivery or more specifically, no charge until the business can afford to pay when growth is realized.
Let us listen to the needs of our entrepreneurs and address them so they too can be successful and bridge the wealth divide.