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?

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Barbados Rapidly Losing Regional ICT Battle And Don’t Even Know It


Barbados is rapidly losing the regional Information and Communication Technology (ICT) battle with T&T, Jamaica and Grenada being increasingly recognized as regional nations of choice for international ICT business investment, this is due largely to investments these nations have made in their national ICT infrastructure. Barbados has been overly focused on the tourism industry to the detriment of many other industries like ICT, a pattern which must end.  Jamaica in the midst of their economic challenges have invested in creating a national ICT infrastructure that is now attracting international ICT investors like Digicel, which is now based in Jamaica but could/should have been based in Barbados.

What is the sense of having a well educated population if we don’t have jobs for our youth when they are done school.  It is as though we need a major shock to our idea of life and liberty in Barbados (which by the way is the only reason to vote for the DLP in the next general election).

We as a society still view diplomas on a wall as proof of a profession’s worth and as a result of this institutional thinking they are many young Bajan entrepreneurs and “doers” who will never get a chance to “shine”, just because they did not go to Harrison or Queens College or UWI.  If we as a nation are going to survive in the post-recession world, we have to change this mindset and way of thinking about education, for competitiveness sake.

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Government Can Do More To Enable The Environment For Small Business Enterprises

Adrian Loveridge - Hotel Owner

Our precious four acres of Inch Marlow has felt more like the United Nations over the last week with guests from Lithuania, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, United States, Canada, United Kingdom and for the first time, Uruguay.

It’s a far cry from 1988, when we purchased a then derelict Arawak Inn and spent just about everything we had in the world, transforming seventeen separate buildings into a functional hotel. I graphically remember a prominent Barbadian hotelier telling me soon after we moved here, almost with glee, that ‘we were never going to make it with just 22 rooms’. While dejected at the time, I am really glad now that I didn’t take a blind bit of notice of him.

Also the lectures from bank managers telling us that we were undercapitalised or overtrading!

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