Entrepreneurial Development

“Our manufacturing future lies in creating those products that are unique to the Caribbean as opposed to copying what those outside of the region might be doing or may have done before” – Comment by Anthony Sobers, CEO Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), reported in the Barbados Daily Nation April 27 2005.

Many traditional Caribbean institutions are plagued with the burden of ‘where has it been done before?’ If there is no history then they do not want to hear from you. They are steeped in conservatism and scared to depart from their comfort zones. Anthony Sobers, recently appointed CEO of the BIDC, is now promoting concepts of innovation and uniqueness. This is a welcomed initiative. Five weeks ago in this column, I posed the question ‘how feasible is it to change the structure of the economy?’ My answer was ‘very feasible, if we take a strategic focus and think outside of the box’.

I noted that the existing primary foreign exchange earning and saving sectors are Tourism and Travel-Related Services, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Solar Water Heating. Each of these can be expanded to generate a net increase in foreign exchange earnings. In addition to these, the potential foreign exchange earning and saving sectors are Integrated Knowledge and Logistics Management services, Export Agriculture, Tourism Linkages, Recreational, Cultural & Sporting Services, Renewable Energy Services, Business Development Services, Construction & Related Engineering Services, Environmental Services, Informatics Services, Educational Services and Health & Social Services. We need to exploit this wealth of opportunity. Which institutions will lead the charge of innovation and uniqueness?

The BIDC is the industrial development agency of the Barbados Government, responsible for export promotion and for facilitating the establishment or expansion of business enterprises in Barbados. The BIDC is ideally placed to be a public sector partner in a thrust for enhanced entrepreneurial development.
Over the last four years the Caribbean Business Enterprise Initiative, which was spawned through a consultancy at the CDB, has evolved to what is now the CBET model ‘a Caribbean catalyst turning concepts into commercial realities’. The CBET model speaks of business facilitation and partnership with the entrepreneur. It shepherds the entrepreneur or institution on the journey from ‘business concept’ to ‘sustainable business success’ ensuring that the necessary companions of management and money are adequate and appropriate at every step of the entrepreneur’s journey.

Indeed, if there is an entrepreneur & management and no money; then the business never gets off the ground. If there is an entrepreneur & money and no management; that is when business failure rates tend so soar above 80%. If there is money & management and no entrepreneur; then there is no opportunity to pursue. However, if there is an entrepreneur & money & management; then we have the potential for success.
The checkpoints along the way are (1) Business Opportunity Profiles (BOPs) from new or existing ideas; (2) Business Plans from BOPs; (3) Business Start-Ups from Business Plans; (4) Business Implementation from Business Start-Ups; and (5) Business Stability from Business Implementation.

CBET is a virtual organisation, promoting the CBET model, and therefore relies on partnerships with individuals or professional services firms to provide the resources on a project basis. The CBET model is ideally placed to be the catalyst to stimulate entrepreneurial development.
Over the last month, I have enjoyed a stimulating experience as I held discussions with Jerry Blenman of Calidad Investment & Financial Services Inc. and Wendy Harrison of HOWES Inc. and their colleagues. These two organizations have already formed a smart partnership to help people discover and achieve their financial and economic goals by providing high quality products and excellent service at a competitive cost.

Calidad is the Spanish word for quality; hence a hallmark of the company is its quality centric focus and commitment to excellence in service and quality line of products. Their motto is ‘Innovation, Quality and Growth’. Innovation, Quality and Growth have quickly become measures of excellence at Calidad where they have embraced a strategy of sustained and managed growth to ensure quality is not compromised, while simultaneously creating new and innovative financial and investment alternatives for their customers.

Their focus is on Management Services, Business Finance, Finance Planning, Mortgage Advice and Property Investment. They recognize the importance of money and management, in the right combinations, as we shepherd the entrepreneur on the journey from ‘business concept’ to ‘sustainable business success’. In addition they recognize the importance of property investment as a parallel financial capital security initiative. This reminds me of Hernando de Soto’s observations in his book The Mystery of Capital – ‘Capital has lost its way in developing countries. It is not equitable, it creates a wealth divide’. We now have the opportunity to redress this situation.

Calidad also recognises the importance of the holistic approach to human development as we maintain a balance between the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical needs of the human being. They also recognize that sustainable development is secured for posterity when there is a balance in the spiritual, physical, economic, social and cultural environment.
Calidad and HOWES are ideally placed to be private sector partners in a thrust for enhanced entrepreneurial development.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) – http://www.cbet-inc.org

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