The Stephen Lashley Plan To Build Out a Cultural Industry
Barbados will host this year’s XV Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (Foromic 2012) from October 1 to 3, marking the first time ever that the event will be held in an English-speaking Caribbean country. More than 1,000 participants are expected to attend Foromic, which this year will focus on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship.
The news that Barbados will host this major event is good news. Up to now entrepreneurship has been a buzz word with little evidence that it has taken root in Barbados. We wish the organizers success and hope the stated objectives are achieved. Given the shift in the global economy post 2008 it must be evident that a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship will have to increase the contribution it is making to the local economy.
It is not widely known that the government of Barbados has contracted a consultant by the name of Andrew Senior to advise on the building out of the mooted ‘Cultural Industry’. Reasonable people appreciate the complexity of growing a culture industry, and the decision by Minister Stephen Lashley and the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to request technical assistance from UNESCO and the EU by contracting Senior seems reasonable; on the surface.
However because of Senior’s published alliances, BU believes it does not fall outside the bounds of speculation to connect a few dots. If you navigate to Senior’s website you will hit on the page which advertises his partnership with KIVA – a not-for-profit organisation based in the United States, with a web-based platform that uses social media to connect investors with those seeking finance. An investor can make a loan of as little as USD25.00, and normally several investors are required to satisfy the investment needs of the entrepreneur concerned. The loans are interest-free. A visit to the ubiquitous Wikipedia explains the what and how about KIVA.
Continuing the tour of Senior’s website we learn of a Felipe Buitrago, listed as an associate of Senior, he worked as his subordinate at the British Arts Council. What BU finds interesting is that Felipe’s business interest is to promote entrepreneurial activities in the arts. BU understands that a meeting was hosted in Barbados recently (confirmed on Senior’s website) and Felipe Buitrago, his Columbian mate, was also in attendance. BU cannot confirm who attended the meeting from Barbados because it was held under under Chatham House Rule. Why the ‘freak’ our government would be less than transparent in the circumstances is left to be explained to the lowly BU household. If it is true that Felipe Buitrago is KIVA’s Columbian asset then a picture emerges for those who have eyes. By the way here is information on the founder of michroeconomy and the problems he is encountering legally all over the world.
Is this all just a coincidence? Has Andrew Senior managed to kill two birds with one stone – a stone paid for by the UNESCO/EU? Has he been able to plant the seed for KIVA in Barbados to piggyback on his substantive assignment?
Does Minister Stephen Lashley know what is going on here?