The need for an Investment Club in Rife!

What can be done to bring our business people together? I am never one to give up. Over the years I have been writing my weekly column, I have stressed the need for business persons to get together so that collectively, solutions could be sought for the many problems that confront them, especially the micro, small and medium operators.

The situation of lack of trust in each other must be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Business persons must begin to trust each other if they are to do business with each other and share ideas and opportunities. In today's world no one has a monopoly on information and ideas but surely if business persons can work together they are more likely to succeed. Look around and see the successful business persons, they are collaborating at the highest levels of their business and social lives.

Apart from small business persons reluctance to get together, there is the individualistic approach where business with excellent opportunities for success will not venture to open up their companies or their ideas to participation. Real money is made by persons of like minds coming together and pooling their resources. Look at the stock market, rich people, poor people all come together and build a financial platform that in many instances cause huge successes to be achieved.

While a lot of promotion has gone into the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange I continue to express the concern that the most important area of seeking to generate new offerings is lacking. The 27 or so public companies within the OECS have little or no movement. Those who were wise enough to secure shares at the early stages hold on to them. As a result there is almost no activity in the market. I eagerly await the idea of small cap stocks. I guess this is a type of penny stocks.

Like in the business sector where the small businesses offer substantial contribution to the economies of the world so will small cap stocks. A dynamic private sector is most needed if we are to earn a place on the global playing field.
If the current crop of successful business persons are to continue to make a contribution to the economic well being of our nations there must be a change in the way they have grown accustomed of doing things. There will be need for important structural changes in their businesses. The time has come for almost every business to be re-engineered. Technology must play a more direct role in making the operations more efficient.

What better way to bring about changes in the way business persons think and act than through business and social interaction. An Investment Club will provide an environment where business persons will meet and be brought up to date on new developments in industry, learn about new ways of sourcing funding, opportunities to effect saving, etc. Apart from opportunities for gathering information and being educated in certain subjects, there should also be social interaction which allows for sharing ideas in a Club House setting.

In the USA, the Highlander Club and the Oxford Club bring together their membership several times a year to share experiences and get cutting edge information in all aspects of Industry. It is imaginable what such a Club can do for advancing our Entrepreneurial Culture. At the business level there is not enough interaction. Everyone is fighting a war by himself/herself only to find that the opposing army is formidable.

I recall when with the assistance of Mrs. Berthia Parle a few Business Cocktails were held at the Bay Gardens Conference Centre, it was such a battle to ensure that a few individuals turn up. In recent times I have observed that most functions are poorly attended. There seems to be a loss of appetite for such functions. This is by no means good for our emerging society.

In times past cocktail parties were seen as opportunities to do business. An Investment/Business Club is what is needed. We also need to get visiting investors to share their experiences with us especially to discuss the direction in which their industry is headed. With an established venue which is frequented by business and professional persons, speaking notices would be easily be noted.
It would be ideal to have the Club House administrative office library, internet cafe and conference room under one roof and make it the place for making deals and sharing business information. The time has come when the business and professional persons in our midst need to get together in a place which they can call their own.

This approach may well be the answer to the problem of unity and for bring about changes in the attitude of business persons. It will be the organisation that will set the trend and will do the transformation among our business persons. We are guilty of not doing enough to confront the problems that we need to solve if we are to move the process of adopting to the reality of being part of the emerging global village. Make business an attractive vocation once again. There are many places around the Caribbean that the business persons have designated their club. We don't have that in St. Lucia, so maybe we will need a more structural approach as suggested in this article. If business has lost it's glamour, let us put it back.
Keep the Faith. God is in charge.

August 31, 2002