“In plenty and in time of need. When this fair land was young, Our brave forefathers sowed the seed. From which our pride was sprung…”
From time to time in Barbados the debate centres on how Barbadians can enable the landscape for entrepreneurship to flourish. A casual observation confirms that a large and growing Barbados middleclass is of the collin-tie variety. Entrepreneurs who are wired to deliver goods and service of a world class standard continue to struggle and earn respect in Barbados; in stark contrast to Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana. In fact we may have a problem defining who is an entrepreneur versus a businessman.
BU suspects for an entrepreneurship culture to take root in Barbados an old mindset has to be dismantled and be transformed, to become a Barbados where the school, heights and terrace, media etc are respectful of this segment. BU has a view that the socialist model which has served Barbados well in a post Independence period has lost its relevance. A consequence is that a mendicant culture is flourishing. Social benefits have morphed to be entitlements in the perception of many. The end result is that we have reached a point where public expenditure has outpaced our ability to generate matching revenue. Ignore the politicians who disagree!
What will it require to energize a comfortable ‘collin-tie’ class that a different approach is needed if we are to protect the standard living we have become addicted?
Here is one of the world’s best known entrepreneurs extolling on – what is an entrepreneur:
What is your definition of entrepreneur?
Speaking at an entrepreneur event in Egypt earlier this week with President Carter, he mentioned how President George W Bush had reportedly said “the French don’t have a word for entrepreneur.”
A quick Google will tell you that the word entrepreneur is a loanword from the French verb “entreprende”, which means “to undertake”. That sounds quite fitting, as entrepreneurs are always undertaking new challenges and coming up with new ideas.
Joseph Schumpeter’s definition is pretty good. “Entrepreneurs are innovators who use a process of shattering the status quo of the existing products and services, to set up new products, new services.” Peter Drucker was onto something too when he made the following definition in 1964: ” An entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities. Innovation is a specific tool of an entrepreneur hence an effective entrepreneur converts a source into a resource.”
When making a start in business with Student Magazine, I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was. All that interested me was starting a publication to protest against the Vietnam War – and having some fun along the way. If that meant becoming an entrepreneur, then that was fine too.
Over the years the nature of entrepreneurship has changed as new businesses have developed and the world has evolved. New innovative business people will keep coming along and changing the game all over again. Was inspired at a recent B Team gathering of young business leaders who have successfully built businesses that prioritize people, planet and profits. They are well on their way to building and spreading better business practices. Here at Virgin, we intend to keep changing the game for good too.
So – what does being an entrepreneur mean to you? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.