The Failed Entrepreneurial State

Sir Dwight Venner - Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

Sir Dwight Venner – Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank

BU listened with interest to the Governor of the ECCB Sir Dwight Venner as he delivered the annual Leo Leacock Memorial Lecture during Small Business Week 2014 (SBA) which ran from September 21 to September 27. Of interest also:  the week  culminated with  an Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Hilton with our friendly neighbourhood academic Avinash D. Persad invited to deliver the featured address titled The Entrepreneurial State. Coincidentally, Persad delivered the annual Leo Leacock lecture in 2009. A pet peeve of BU is why the race by the SBA to invite so many academics to address an audience presumably of budding and established entrepreneurs. Persad’s speech was littered with the usual amorphous references to Steve Jobs, Carlos Slim, Larry Ellison with no reference to past or rising entrepreneurs from Barbados or the region who have blazed a trail. This is the problem BU has with academics who often (through no fault of their own) become detached from the reality. And no BU is not anti academic.

For those who listened and observed his body language Sir Dwight Venner expressed a hopelessness with the Barbados development engine for absconding its leadership role in the region. Bear in mind this is a man who walks in the shadows of regional political and business leaders. We all agree SMEs have to be part of the solution but we continue to struggle jumpstarting the sector. Like a stuck record we have to listen to SBA CEO Lynette Holder’s query whether we have a category called entrepreneur in Barbados or whether our policymakers even acknowledge an invigorated SME sector as being critical to the lifeblood of the Barbados economy.   Like the minibus culture which has been allowed to take root by successive administrations so too they have demonstrated a basement level of ignorance about how to foster an environment that will release the potential of the Barbadian entrepreneur.

Is it not logical to conclude that our pre-colonial education model is failing us and we need to change it? Are our leaders unable to appreciate if we continue to use the same model we will not get a different result? We are happy to produce a nation of employees by suppressing those who would aspire to create capital by unleashing talents driven by a yearning to self actualize swimming in an ethos of entrepreneurial activity? Are we a highly literate nation or not?

Now that Comrade Bobby Morris agrees with the policy of the government making todays students bear some tertiary level education cost, now is a good time to implement some of the many measures recommended over the years to make it more relevant. Newton’s third law teaches that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. The decision by government to ask students and parents to incur about 20% debt to cover tertiary level education will have an opposite reaction. Bear in mind the request to pay university fees must be assessed against government’s declared policy of implementing user fees for a number of other services including health care. To quote Minister Donville Inniss Barbadians expect the government to provide everything from ‘conception to resurrection’ whatever that means.

If we accept the science of  Newton what can we expect as a reaction to increasing student debt and an uncertain environment in which to work. The following analysis  Student Debt And The Millennial Entrepreneurship Paradox may allow us to peer into the future whether we like it or not. We have to try harder because what we have been doing up to now is not working. David Ellis featuring a few entrepreneurs who have struggled against the current is does not obviate the need to establish a movement.

29 thoughts on “The Failed Entrepreneurial State

  1. Pingback: The Failed Entrepreneurial State - Vibe Audio StationVibe Audio Station

  2. Madam President, thank you for this opportunity to move the second reading of this Resolution:

     WHEREAS Small Business is deemed beneficial to the social and economic development of Barbados;
     and whereas they are many agencies, public and private that interface with the Small Business Sector;
     and whereas the sector is diversified both in size and type covering every economic sector
     BE IT RESOLVED that the Government takes immediate steps to implement a national policy on Small Business in Barbados.

    Madam President, that Small Businesses contribute significantly to the social and economic development of Barbados is indisputable as it is for countries around the world.

    Small businesses form the majority of business establishments in a country and contribute a large portion to Gross Domestic Product and to job creation.

    In fact, Madam President, much of the world’s innovation and that also of Barbados can be traced directly to small business activity.

    The contribution % of Gross Domestic Product varies from country to country. I have heard of contributions as low as 20% and as high as 80%. Small Business contribution to employment levels varies in the same proportions.

    In Barbados the figures vary between 20% and 70% for contribution to GDP and 15% – 60% for contribution to employment. It would therefore be good if these figures are researched and that we have a more accurate set of figures.

    Small business has provided a strong foundation for much of our living standards and poverty reduction. Even now in 2014, we are still seeing small business as the instrument of poverty reduction and self-help.

    Read the Full Text of Senator John Watson’s speech HERE


    It have to fail , for all is Fraud,

    • Excellent speech Senator. We can do this but we need to establish a venture capital/small business fund. We can attached conditions where stakeholders are given incentives to procure from small businesses with an annual sales of up to 1 million, we can create tiers if we wanted. The sky is the limit. We can do this!

    • several of the actors involved in the leadership of the SBA and supporting organization need to stand down. Many have become too friendly with the politicos and others and it has compromised their effectiveness in the sector.

  4. As deeds said.Its fraud.So long as the fraud continues by greed of the monopolistic few then entrepreneurial activity rising from the many will continue to be stifled.

  5. This subject matter and its attendant management by successive administrations aided and abetted by the usual suspects, lip servants, from the SBA, the Ministry of Education and the University of the West Indies brings these symptoms squarely into the spotlight yet in so doing also advertises the bigger problem.

    Where there is no vision the people perish is not today’s Golden Text. It is a statement of unadulterated fact that across the spectrum of collective enablements we simply do not have those persons who are able, I purposely have not said willing, to propose and then execute any strategy to enable the environment within which entrepreneurs can be birthed, gestate nurtured and grow.
    Our wannabe polemicists sprout all the lotta long talk about Silicon Valley the Singapore model, the Irish Tiger and Barbados as the Entrepreneurial Hub in 2020 but the fact remains that be you the clucking Springer or Boos, Donville or Lynette they form part of the cadre of persons who simply DO NOT HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO DRIVE entrepreneurial activity

    They do not possess the Japanese MITI GENE nor the intestinal fortitude and requisite vision, for it takes vision, and competencies to make this happen.
    Free or subsidized education can only be maintained if there is a vibrant ecosystem and economy replete with enabling environment facilitated by a government that understands it role, functioning public servants instead of leeches focused on the 26th of the month, a private sector which invests in growth, knows how to stimulate growth in spite of an incompetent administration and does not pull up stumps when the going gets tough and a constellation of stakeholders, the school, the church, the community, the Chamber of Commerce, the SBA who, over the course of their lifetimes through the diligent application of effort, time and resources lay down a foundation through which Bajans in general and entrepreneurs in particular can benefit and thrive

    Men and women of straw CANNOT deliver what is needed when all they focus on is, in the words of Dennis Lowe, and Chris Sinckler with the Paradise investors “what is in it for me?”

  6. More than five years ago we had a discussion with Dwight Venner at the regional central bank. At the time we tried to understand his vision for development, the role of the US dollar, the trade architecture and alternatives for ‘development’. It was clear to us that Venner had not a clue other than for the maintenance of colonialism and dependency. We were amazed by his lack of understanding about this then emerging crisis. That his reading of circumstances had no relationship whatsoever the realism which is now confronting the Caribbean. This was shocking. To us, after more than 3 hours of back and forth discussion/debate Venner left us with the above impression mixed with an esoteric veneer unhelpful in solving the problems we saw coming.

    And the central bank, which he leads, has had good performances in the past. But the past is not always an indicator of the future. That in itself might have been a function of inertia. We can’t understand why people continue to think that those who walk around with these colonial epithets before their names could be useful to us. As a republican we demurred but addressed him as Governor, respectfully but forcefully, cornering him on several occasions.


    Check the NEWS just a Matter of Time before these crooks liar and scumbags end up in jail, , They will see Jail for crimes against the State and the Judges bought an paid off will have they day in a true court of Law,

    Pimp title holders Ministers , Lawyer and friends of crooks , You can out live the law , What ever you look to pass to pass on to your family ill gotten gains will be pull back to the People, Trading places,

    • @Plantation Deeds

      Do you understand readers must connect with what you are trying to convey?


      Thanks for your intervention.

  8. Pacha .. Damned straight. The one thing about Venner that I like is that he works for an institution that Barbados should be part of. The Ministers have finance have no influence over him, though I must admit that Owen Arthur did push seem to push the Sec General of Caricom around when they participated in joint interviews.

    Venner,like Pasad like John Watson, conveniently prefer to confuse “Small Business” with “Productive Enterprise”. One targets employment issues, the other targets innovation and the possibility to export. The two are DIFFERENT and should be treated as such.


    Pachamama | September 29, 2014 at 6:39 AM |And the central bank, which he leads, has had good performances in the past. But the past is not always an indicator of the future@
    indicator of the future AND TODAY is now showing by way of Audit that the system full of fraud , Madoff and Standford was only the tip of what they wanted to see and blame, If the police is paid off and the courts turn their backs , what you think will happen next,
    Slavery as you know never ended but it change its from by people being under paid,
    The same way they back track AIDS they same way they have back track the Caribbean Crime Spry to TNT and Barbados , Antigua.. Guyana maybe a different story but they have all the food they need to Feed them self. So who is Stronger,


    SuckaBubby | September 28, 2014 at 9:43 PM @

    When We Clean Up , its will be a New Day in Barbados History ,


    David | September 29, 2014 at 6:51 AM |

    @Plantation Deeds

    Do you understand readers must connect with what you are trying to convey? @

    All they have to do is google Violet Beckles Massive Land Fraud Barbados,
    Those who care and feel the pain of maddnesss , people will have to do their home work while home with out work or income ,


    • @BAFBFP

      True but we have to creep man! We have to get policymakers to be disposed to the sector. If the framework infrastructure around financing and facilitation is in place we have a ball game no?

  12. Once again Transport Minister, Mr Michael Lashley, has demonstrated his incapacity/inability to seriously think through fundamental problems facing certain sectors in this country.

    Now having recently badly terribly conceived of the sickening idea of the merging of certain aspects of the domestic mass public transportation sector, and having recently poorly disgustingly conceived of the nuisance idea of compulsory home insurance in Barbados, the minister goes one step further into the valley of folly, by stating that all motor vehicles – under a future amendment to the Road Trafffic Act – will have to be taken to the Pine for officials at the Licensing Department to prove their existence.

    What rubbish foolishness!!

    Indeed, in an unstudied hare-brained knee-jerk reaction to the recent local car racket, he expressed intolerance at the idea that all it took was a cover note from an insurance company to provide part of the basis for a person to get a motor vehicle licensed.

    With so many thousands of motor vehicles owned and run by their owners it is clear that there will be far greater more unnecessary congestion confusion more unnecessary bureaucracy than now at the Pine if this joke minister and presumably the Cabinet of Barbados were to get their way on this foolish idea.

    While we condemn the alleged car/loan finance racket, it does not take a Transport Minister swinging wildly with a sledge hammer in his hands to knock out a fly, and, in the end – without connecting with the fly that was on the treasured china ware on a dining table – mainly succeeding in breaking up and licking up the same china ware on a dining table, and thus creating far more problems in the dining room.

    The cover note process is clearly not the problem!!

    The problem has been that the insurance company/the bank/credit union/finance house may not ever see the vehicle involved in the respective transactions.

    Therefore, in view of this particular alleged racket – what has to be done to partially temporarily correct that problem – given that the PDC is diametrically opposed to motor vehicle insurance – is to legally make these companies prove – by any reasonable means together and at whatever times – the existence of the motor vehicles that are under consideration for their own commercial business purposes – and on the basis of such proof – have the motor vehicle insurance companies issue valid cover notes to be taken – along with the proof by the other commercial companies of the existence of these vehicles – by the relevant owners/agents of those vehicles to the Licensing Department.

    Failure of these companies business to adhere to such principles would mean their being severely sanctioned under the law of the government.

    Clearly, this very inept Minister of Transport must be reined in.


  13. But David framework infrastructure around financing and facilitation WAS in place … and the policy makers found and excuse to tear it down in favour of quasi-private sector driven initiatives like Fun’ Access and Enterprise Guilt F’ck … both bull shit institutions. The Development Bank just needed to be “properly” coached and staffed.

    • @BAFBFP


      The BDB was one of the most politicised institutions in Barbados. Ask Cheltenham, Ezra Alleyne et al. More than tweaking was required Sir!

  14. DD apologizes for going off-topic but had to post this somewhere.

    The following is a quote from Connie Smith, President of the Barbados International Business Association (BIBA) at:

    “It is incumbent on us to continuously defend Barbados’ position and to articulate effectively why Barbados is different from the traditional tax havens and where we can partner with other more developed countries to offer more economic financial development for their country and as well as Barbados in the process.

    “We want to send a strong message globally as to what differentiates Barbados and what Barbados is about and where we can contribute meaningful to the global economy.”

    DD would appreciate if Ms. Smith or someone else would articulate how a Canadian, US or UK company establishing a corporate domicile in Barbados to lower its income tax rate to 2.5% offers an economic benefit to their countries, or makes a meaningful contribution to the global economy.

  15. David;
    Fault the environment .. fault the staff … fault the bloody population, but do not fault the need for a proper functioning DEVELOPMENT bank. No Venture Capitalist, no small business loans institution can play the role of a development bank.

  16. Well David maybe it is time to stop referring to ‘we’ as a relevant target. Though it is true that ‘we’ are all affected by the decisions that are made, ‘we’ never have anything to do with them, and we have nothing to do with those who make the decisions. A prime minister determines who the executive chairmen are that sit in Cabinet so I think that you are inadvertently being too hard on the rest of us

    • If we are serious about building a fertile entrepreneur state why should the Bynoes be forced to grovel on national radio?

      On Monday, 29 September 2014, Barbados Underground wrote:


  17. David | September 30, 2014 at 2:48 PM |
    If we are serious about building a fertile entrepreneur state why should the Bynoes be forced to grovel on national radio?
    And those who have built this state, the pensioners, may be next in line to grovel, as the NIS website , like all government vehicles , have broken down, and not expected to be back up before three weeks time . Meanwhile many pensioners will have to become temporary beggars,until then.
    This is a country awash with people who have Phd’s, Masters and Gods knows what else in computer science,and are employed in government, and seem to be just as bloody useless as the mechanics at SSA or the Ambulance service.
    A government that cares. A government for the people. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

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