“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again” – Ecclesiastes 11:1

Last week, I enjoyed a wonderful intellectual interlude, spiced with practical reality. It was a most welcome change from the routine. Indeed, it began in Barbados on the Easter weekend with a chat with Phil Melville and Jean MacIntyre of Argyle Financial Group in the UK. They were guests of Mark and Elaine Isherwood who are proud owners of one of my sister’s condos at Springcourt, Rockley New Road.

I spent an hour and a half of reflection with Jerry Blenman of Calidad (Investment, Finance and Property development) on the development of the strategic alliance with CBET (Enterprise Development) for the betterment of the people of the Caribbean.

Lorna Garner took time out to share her global film investment facilitating experience with Alison Saunders-Franklyn and myself. This was very interesting especially since Alison had just returned from a stimulating Hollywood scriptwriters’ showcase held at Universal Studios, in preparation for the production of her full length feature film “Hit for Six”.

This cricket film project involves the West Indies and India teams. It is centred around a sidelined “bad boy” of WI cricket who faces many challenges including match-fixing charges in an unlikely quest to play in the Cricket World Cup and gain the respect of his estranged father, a former great WI player. Alison is currently pursuing co-production, investment and distribution arrangements for her film. It is a CBET enterprise.

Then the venue shifted to London where the temperature on arrival was six degrees Centigrade with a gentle wind chill factor and plenty of sunshine. Stimulating, I would say. I caught up with my sister’s latest investment prospects in Springcourt and learnt of her interesting exploits in a small investment club (stocks and shares) which she chairs.

The first meeting the next day was with Edwin Pollard, Barbados’ High Commissioner to the UK and his deputy Herbie Yearwood. We talked about investment in Enterprise Development, CBET enterprises and CBET’s possible involvement in the upcoming Barbados Trade Show in London in August 2006.

Then Professor Vishnu Persaud entertained me at lunch and, as usual, we reflected on development in the Caribbean and the prospects and strategies for economic growth. We also discussed the exploits of his two sons, top British economist Avinash Persaud and Dr Raj Persaud, Consultant Psychiatrist. Vishnu was very supportive of the prospect of an emerging private sector arising from CBET projects which have the “DNA of an Elephant” or potential for exponential growth in local, regional and global niche markets.

It was good to see Winston Cox again .He popped into Deryck Brown’s office at the Commonwealth Secretariat to see me amidst his busy schedule. Winston is leaving to take up a new post at IADB in Washington D.C. in July 2006. The next day began with an exciting Dr Mihaela Smith dialogue. Mihaela leads the Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management with whom we have partnered to mount two Barbados Smart Partnership International Dialogues in 1996 and 1999. I also met, in separate meetings with Angela Strachan and Roli Degazon-Johnson of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Roli introduced me to two colleagues, the one Marianna Ellingson of Papua New Guinea, who Heads up the Strategic Planning and Evaluation division at Comm. Sec. and the other Ruth Francis a Jamaican printed textile designer. My penultimate meeting was with Gregor MacKinnon, Director of Programmes at the Commonwealth Business Council and the final meeting with Lawrence Michel, Oliver Bennett and Jack Newnham of the Emerging Markets Group (formerly Deloitte with whom I have had a strategic management consulting alliance since the early eighties).

Then I wended my way to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex countryside for the annual Conference on Statistics, Science and Public Policy. This year the theme was Evidence, Economics and Health. This conference is organised by a colleague of mine Professor Agnes Herzberg of Queen’s University, Canada. We first met at Birkbeck and Imperial College’s London University over 40 years ago. This conference is the eleventh in the series. Attendees at this conference hail from both sides of the Atlantic and indeed around the world.

In this week of refreshing change, my passion for enterprise development as an investment opportunity has been reinforced. Some of us, the risk averse, are satisfied with investing our money on a savings account. Some of us invest in stocks and shares, but given the volatility of this market, one has to be on top of the activity on a daily basis to maximise your returns. It can be a time consuming exercise but the return on investment can be great. My understanding is that those who cannot devote the time to this activity can adopt the “patient approach” and still benefit in the long term.

Property investment is another way to get a good return on investment in markets like the Caribbean where property prices are increasing. Buying and selling property can be very lucrative, especially if you develop the land before selling so that you can benefit from the value added.

The one area that has not been seen as an attractive area of investment is development of emerging enterprises. Traditional enterprises, yes! Emerging enterprises, no! The risk of business failure, averaging at 80%, is too high. CBET’s aim is to prove that emerging enterprise development is a very attractive and viable form of investment, and CBET predicts that the CBET Shepherding Model, which is based on the concept “Management as Collateral” will reduce the failure rate to the order of 20%. CBET and its subsidiary CVIS provide mechanisms for a good return on investment from Enterprise Development.

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