By Basil Springer

“Three tools appear to offer new ways of approaching the problems …The first of these is planning …with its emphasis on the need to act now to solve the problems of the future. The second is the use of network concepts that offers a means of giving precision and … offers a guarantee that all relevant factors are considered. The third is the computer with its ability to manipulate large amounts of highly structured information …so that the complexity may be quickly grasped and understood and problems highlighted” - ).

The above observation was made in 1970. Since then we have witnessed the advent of the personal computer, the Internet, the smart partnership philosophy, social entrepreneurship and creative financial packaging et al. in an attempt to increase productivity, enhance competitiveness, stimulate growth, address the wealth divide and alleviate poverty on the way to sustainable development.

I have been involved quite intensively over the last 20 months in coordinating the advent of Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean Inc. This is the latest attempt to develop a vertically integrated West Indian sea island cotton industry and is focused on exploring opportunities for obtaining value-added revenues from 100% pure sea island cotton finished goods, instead of the traditional approach of selling cotton lint. As planned, the mantle of authority has been placed on other shoulders and I was able to take a welcomed break to travel to Trinidad last week.

However, having been so closely involved with this reengineered industry, needless to say that I was in email and telephone contact with ECCI while away, attending to residual transitional issues. CBET has recently been commissioned to initiate an institutional strengthening exercise for the Cotton Growers’ Association so I will still be closely linked to the industry. Of course, I also represent CBET on the ECCI board.

The Commonweath Partnership for Technology Manangement, based in the UK, is a global proponent of the Smart Partnership philosophy. I was inivted to Trinidad to be part of a group of Caribbean members of CPTM to participate in a brainstorming session ‘Disaster Recovery: Scenarios/Opportunities for Grenada – Considerations for building a Smart Economy post hurricane Ivan’.

Dr. Annalee Babb, at the invitation of Dr. Jeff Dellimore, our convener, laid the foundation by playing out a scene of Scenario Planning for Grenada. According to Gill Ringland, author of Scenario Planning: Managing for the Future, Scenario Planning is that part of strategic planning which relates to the tools and technologies for managing the uncertainties of the future.’ Our challenge was to contribute to the strategy to take Grenada from a ‘Shipwrecked’ scenario – the current state - to the visionary ‘ Fair Sailing’ scenario.

This was followed by a presentation the following day at a Forum on the Information Society organisaed by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. I was honoured to present the CPTM members’ findings for ‘The New Grenada’ arising out of the brain storming session, in collaboration with the Grenada Minister of Education and her ICT adviser. The introduction of ICT applications is one solution for Grenada.

I also took the opportunity in Trindad to touch base with Professor John Spence and his wife Yolande, friends and former colleagues at the Faculty of Agriculture at UWI Trinidad. Our topics were Social Entrepreneurship and then the Educational system in the Caribbean, the lost generation and its impact on the wealth divide.

Social entrepreneurship may be defined as a professional, innovative, and sustainable approach to systematic change that resolves social market failures and grasps opportunities. Social entrepreneurs engage with a wide range of business and organisational models, both non- and for-profit, but the success of their activities are measured first and foremost by their social impact. CBET is an example of a social entrepreneurship model.

CBET has developed a partnership with the Venture Capital Incentive Programme in Trinidad and has participated in the annual VenturePoint programme – a regional programme for entrepreneurship excellence. On this occasion we discussed the concept of a regional entrepreneurs’ showcase which provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to present business profiles to a select group of regional financiers and investors, with a view to establish a closer bond between enterprise and finance.

I also had a couple of meetings with financiers who were both interested in CBET as a generator of deal flow as well as looking a creative financial instruments to match the need for finance in the market place. Both these scenarios could contribute to growth in the Caribbean.

It was gratifying to observe an email enquiry at the end of the week an extract from which is as follows: ‘…At this stage, I want to sharpen my professional change competencies to the wider arena and am interested in training and development opportunities but am not sure where to look, where to begin - which universities/institutes, which programs, which conferences? I would appreciate your help in this regard as I want to properly hone my skills. I want to work in change on a regional level…What do you propose please sir?’ I replied appropriately, but more importantly noted mentally that with this type of interest and approach, the management of the tools for the future would be in good hands.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -