“Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.” – Proverbs 25:25
Last week, senior economist at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Justin Ram, identified a dip in the average income of Caribbean countries, below the global average, as one trend that, if continued, would make the region “among the poorest countries by 2050”. A daunting prospect.
In 1998, as CDB consultant (service exports), I led a team which produced a 2001 report entitled “Caribbean Business Enterprise Initiative – a Caribbean Catalyst turning Concepts into Commercial Realities”. This was shared interactively around the Caribbean under the auspices of the Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust over seven years and evolved into what is now called the Shepherding model.
The Barbados government (2008-2012) supported the establishment of the Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust (Barbados) to test the efficacy of the Shepherding model, in the field, with positive encouraging results.
In September 2010, at the Barbados Small Business Association’s (BSBA) state of the sector conference, the BSBA and Scotiabank, in the award ceremony, recognized the work done in (1) presenting the Shepherding model to the business landscape of Barbados; (2) the formation of a seed and equity capital fund concept; and (3) the long-standing contribution to the small business sector as evidenced by various lobbying and educational activities.
Yet there has been no traction in terms of sustainable economic growth stimulated by enterprise development. This is an opportunity waiting to happen.
The good news is that it appears as if there is now light at the end of the tunnel for emerging businesses and small business associations.
Dr. Ram and Marketplace Excellence (MPE), a US-based Caribbean-led company, recognizing the constraints which impede the path of progress, are independently exploring how best to remove the constraints to enterprise development as a catalyst for Caribbean growth.
Speaking at BSBA’s state of the sector conference last week, Dr. Ram called for the establishment of a Barbados small business resilience unit trust fund for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to have access to innovative financing.
MPE is currently exploring a global emerging states enterprise development private sector service as a disruptive innovation initiative. This service recognizes the importance of all three of the Shepherding model components: (1) sharpening the export value proposition of the enterprise; (2) shepherding the entrepreneur to clear obstacles along the journey to business success; and (3) supporting appropriate quick response MSME innovative financing.
The aim is for capital to be mobilized, from distant lands, to initiate a seed/equity/working capital growth fund, while separately, Dr. Ram has identified US$50 billion of finance sitting down in the Caribbean banks and financial institutions. Creative access to these potential assets, for the mutual benefit of Caribbean economic growth and hence these institutions, will be key.
As the program evolves, stakeholders will be kept apprised in a timely manner of the stages of development of this service.
Plans include engaging digital marketing expertise to create an evolutionary knowledge base and information dissemination platform to seamlessly transfer insight, understanding and wisdom to stakeholders.
For success to take place, we continue to be inspired by author Harold Skip Weitzen’s philosophy: “Start small; Do it right; Make a profit; Then expand.”
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com/basil-springer-column/ and on www.facebook.com/basilgf).