It is Wonderful to see

Minister of Energy and Business Development, Lisa Cummins

It is wonderful to see the number of ‘vendor pop ups’ popping up on weekends. With the fear of COVID 19 receding Barbados has joined the global community by switching to back to normal mode despite the caution from the Chief Medical Officer Kenneth George.

We have talented individuals in Barbados who are producing quality products, Barbadians need to support this budding micro business sector, including the government. One suspects our small scale of production is a disadvantage finding significant export markets, however, Barbados’ high import volume creates the opportunity for import substitution. There is no reason why Barbadians at our stage of development should ignore the benefits of a thriving domestic market.

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Adrian Loveridge Column – Poor Service by Foreign Banks

During the current lockdown it’s perhaps an ideal opportunity to reflect on the positives and negatives of an everyday small business and hope that these experiences can benefit us all in the recovery days to come.

While not directly tourism related, any reasonable person has to ponder what on earth was on the minds of the management of one or more ‘local’ banks to increase their charges during the current pandemic, especially when it was abundantly imminent that another lockdown was about to be enacted.

When the majority of customers are already reeling from the effects of dramatically reduced ‘service’ delivery, the closure of branches without any meaningful consultation with the people who fund their operation and being literally forced into migrated online websites, some of which are far from user-friendly.

In our own personal transactions over the last couple of months, the tardy response of at least two different banks that we deal with have caused us substantial monetary losses and hugely increased unnecessary stress.

Even when the particular bank makes obvious mistakes, the procedure often involves lengthy phone calls to remote ‘customer care’ centres and spent precious hours rectifying their problem, all at our expense, in terms of time and resources, without even a hint of an apology or compensation.

Sadly as a country we have grown to accept a diminished level of service from our financial institutions, at least partially due to Government default of debt, giving these organisations little opportunity other than to extract additional revenue from the ‘little people’ to make up that deficit.

What is so alarming is that the overwhelming number of businesses here, both small and large, will critically depend on these lending entities to sustain them until some degree of normality and viability returns.

And with seemingly such detached directors at the top of the management tree, which can only be a logical explanation for the poor levels of service meted out by the lower level of employees, it is difficult to comprehend how many of our private sector entities will survive.

Perhaps the biggest puzzle is why do we tolerate such a general poor level of service, when the majority of these foreign owned banks could not get away with it in their own domains located in the more developed countries?

My first days as a lifetime entrepreneur at the age of 12 years were spent walking door-to-door with a cheap suitcase selling kitchen items to houses in the UK from the monies I earned selling imperfect shirts from stalls in markets like London’s Petticoat Lane.

In the near six decades that have followed, I have desperately tried to understand how bank managers and their employers rationally think and sadly, do not appear to be any closer to comprehending them.

But I do know that unless there is a seismic shift in the way that ‘our’ banks respond to the immediate needs of local small to medium size businesses in the very near future, many of those enterprises will cease to exist by the end of this year.

That will inevitably take a further toll on Government coffers, so perhaps it is now long overdue that the current administration bites the bullet and encourages banking reform.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Public Officials Must Lead by Example

Perhaps there has never been such an important time in our history to support local small businesses, whether in tourism or any other sector. And regardless of those in the private or public sector, we all have a responsibility, whenever practical and feasible, to follow this objective.

That is why I was so surprised, when yet again, while watching a recent Government convened media conference, which included politicians and public servants at the highest level, together with senior business leaders in the tourism sector, sitting at a head table with bottles of imported Florida water placed in front of them. Especially when you consider, even after a cursory search, we found more than three companies producing local water alternatives.
In our personal experience, at least one of them offered highly competitive prices when comparing with imported options.

It seems incomprehensible that an individual or department within the administration has not been charged with the responsibility of sourcing, negotiating and purchasing for Government, as many locally produced products as possible, providing of course, that they not overly costly to the taxpayer?

Our policymakers must surely understand that economic recovery will largely rest on our many small businesses survival and hopefully future growth? Not just in terms of generating employment, but partially relieving the liability of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), while at the same time creating additional overall tax contributions for Government coffers, reducing foreign imports and FX currency requirements.

Assuming that Government can be persuaded to support local small businesses in a greater degree, perhaps it is also time to resurrect some version of the Buy Bajan promotion that took place years ago, targeted towards the general buying public?

Surely, this is the best way to ensure that as many of our small businesses survive during the current exceptional circumstances and allowing them to slowly re-build for the future?

Of course it would take all those involved in the distribution and point of sale process with the support of financial institutions, media houses offering creative marketing solutions and hopefully the applicable Government Ministry and trade associations playing their part.

And if we need exceptional examples to follow and glean ideas from, there are many impressive models out there. Particularly inspiring is a website Discover Delicious ( whose mission statement boasts ‘Shop delicious, Welsh food, drink and foodie experiences from independent producers and explore the largest collection of Welsh food and drink online – Stay Safe – Shop Local – Support Small’.

Fund Access for Success

Screenshot 2019-07-28 at 13.39.43.png

This can be seen on Fund Access website


The quantum of deposits that you see in Credit Unions and Commercial banks are not capital. They may at best be described as savings, maybe money, BUT NOT CAPITAL. These institutions are Financial Intermediaries, that may, according to their risk preference, transform them into loan capital. I note that one other high profile commentator makes the same mistake

Vincent Condrigton

Understandably the government’s public relations machinery is working overtime. Any iota of information is being shared with the citizenry that will cloak positively the government. The role of propaganda should not be underestimated how it controls the narrative and by extension the minds of a people.   It gives the blogmaster no pleasure to remind the BU family propaganda was used to good effect by the Nazi Party with Hitler appointing a minister of propaganda. This is an extreme example to emphasize the importance governments will place on the function of controlling and ‘sanitizing’ information.  It is left to an informed citizenry to promulgate a countervailing view.

The quote above reminded the blogmaster of a feel good message Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland has been repeating without challenge in recent months. To quote a media report:-

Our Government, we have started talks with non-governmental entities, international agencies, whether the loans will be secured or non-secured we recognised that Fund Access has a number of clients who are knocking on the door. In 21 years of operations, Fund Access has approved over $64 million to 1,500 clients (Blogmaster’s emphasis).

The minister’s message was supported in the same media report by Chairman of Fund Access David Simpson:-

We have also approved an additional 138 loans, and refinanced a further 266, all accounting for job creation of just below 2,400 jobs. He also pointed out that they had surpassed $6 million in disbursements for the calendar year 2018, having approved and disbursed in excess of $5.9 million in loans and created 144 jobs.Up to June 30, the Fund has disbursed $2.4 million to 51 clients and created 68 jobs in 2019. Is is only the blogmaster waiting for more relevant information? How about breaking out the loans by sector, size, date loan given linked to the date same business was established. Important is the failure rate i.e. number of businesses receiving loans and whether they are still in business. What is the rate of delinquency etc etc etc. Some of us prefer our leaders to share a level of analyses with the public that will inform about how our tax money is working or not for that matter.

Relevant link:

‘More money’ for Fund Access

If the small business or what is commonly referred to as the SME sector is regarded as important, those leading the sector must up the game. We see the same tired faces, have to listen to the same tired narratives and expect that miraculously the sector will emerge to save us from ourselves.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Opportunities for Small Business to Grow EXIST!

Despite all the challenges, impediments and red tape currently associated with the growth of small businesses and start-ups, I still see a world of possibilities out there for those persons really determined to be their own boss, especially in the tourism sector.

A recent case in point was a small farm offering free range eggs with complimentary delivery on what appeared, relatively small quantities.

Years ago, one of the more creative delivery drivers with a major distributor devised a simple fax back list where you simply indicated required quantities or weight of vegetables and fruits in stock and the order would magically be delivered later in the day.

Surely, this is a potentially wonderful opportunity for a group of small growers and farmers to mount a co-operative mobile service spearheaded by a simple website.

Many of our smaller accommodation providers would welcome a reliable collection, clean and return of linen and towels, where often it is not desirable or economic to do it in-house.

What other entrepreneurial enterprises are out there waiting to be exploited?

For decades, we having been hearing about the woes and problems that the tenants of Pelican Craft Village apparently have and seem unable to resolve. But how many of those artisans display and sell their offerings on a regular basis at our small to medium sized hotels?

A few of our restaurants do a superb job in displaying local artwork for sale, but when we took a decision to turn one of the architectural highlights of our Ian Morrison trademark designed buildings into an area to display local art, destined to be called ‘Artcoves’, sadly not a single approached artist even bothered to respond, even though there was no cost element to them involved.

When open, we used to invite local craft people to display and sell their products on a regular weekly basis, at our property and I graphically recall one of them proudly boasting they had sales value at over $6,000 during one day. Or, in their own words ‘more than they normally sold in a major department store in a month’.

With yet another financial giant indicating they are considering withdrawing from Barbados and the region, together with all the political uncertainly, there is probably no better time for people considering becoming the master or mistress of their own destiny and creating their own business.

Personally, I have never regretted being a ‘small business person’ for most of my working life. Of course, I was fortunate to have had options.

At the tender age of 21 years, I was a majority shareholder and Managing Director of four companies in the UK. In my mid-twenties I was offered the position as executive Chairman of a leading British travel company.

If I had accepted that position, certainly my personal wealth would have been substantially higher than it is now. Sometimes though, as I tried to point out to a ‘successful’ hotel mogul fairly recently, private jets and yachts are not always the prime motivators.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Entrepreneurs and Bank Managers Live On a Parallel Planet

Adrian Loveridge

This week’s column is a very personal one for which I make no apologies as I sincerely believe this country is at a critical crossroads with very limited decision choices. While not professing for a second to have any special financial skills, the mere fact that I have been in essence, an entrepreneur since the age of 13 for more than five decades gives me some insight to the world of commerce.

Before leaving school I sold new but slightly imperfect shirts from market stalls at the English towns of Chelmsford and Romford and the famous Petticoat Lane in the then ‘notorious east End of London’. Rather than spend those earnings on ‘bling’ or childish acquisitions, it was used to buy household wares which I sold, door-to-door from a small suitcase.

Among my illustrious customers at that time was the mother of the infamous Kray Twins, who from memory, was a lovely kind lady that probably only used to buy my offerings because she either felt sorry for me or just admired my tenacity.

Without wanting to brag, before my 21st birthday, I was the majority shareholder and Managing Director of four companies with a total annual turnover in the millions (Sterling).

Coming from a family of three brothers who were abandoned by our father at the age of seven meant that we learnt and adapted quickly,more than anything though, we grew up to appreciate everything that came our way and acquired a real sense of money and values.

My oldest brother was clever enough to win a scholarship to attend one of Britain’s best public schools and went on to become a doctor. The other went into the merchant navy and over subsequent years built and ran some of the most visionary businesses in various parts of the world.

Personally I have never considered myself successful, at least strictly in any monetary terms, an observation, which was recently publicly highlighted by a regional hotel mogul. To me that word success is not about owning private jets and yachts, but that’s a personal view and it may motivate others.

If I have ever achieved anything approaching success it is because I have been lucky enough to attract like-minded souls who have helped achieve a common purpose.

From a tourism perspective, we have many clever, talented, determined young people out there, who have the ideas to get on the first step of hospitality entrepreneurship and live their dreams, but who are met with a barrage of frustration, red-tape and negativity. I applaud one of our banks who have put their support and funds into encouraging the growth of small businesses, but more has to be done.

Almost every day we are witnessing larger enterprises, downsize or in their mind, right size, trying to adapt to the current trading situation, so am firmly convinced that the road to fiscal survival and recovery will come from our small company sector. While banks repeatedly remind us that they are not in the risk business there has to be a better way, where seed funding is made more accessible.

Almost half a century ago, I came to the conclusion that entrepreneurs and bank managers live on a parallel planet. The two groups are motivated, enticed and driven by completely different ideals and objectives so it is small wonder that meaningful communication is often difficult.

Perhaps every senior and aspiring bank official should serve a learning internship with a small business to help create a better understanding?

‘Home Drum Beat First’ -The Sale of Barbados National Bank by Owen Arthur

For many one of the enduring memories from the Owen Arthur Barbados Labour Party (BLP) tenure is the sale of the Barbados National Bank (BNB) to the Trinidad based Republic Bank Limited. Arthur continues to defend his decision by offering that the BNB was a loss making entity hamstrung by a high level of government bureaucracy and non performing loans. Further, he explains that local credit unions and locals spurned the opportunity to buy shares when offered.

Many will debate the pros and cons of Arthur’s decision to shed majority interest in the BNB till thy kingdom come. We live in a world where almost if not all decisions are greatly influenced by economic consideration. Such an approach does not allow the space for a people to craft a vision and identity based on symbols, traditions that include even the spiritual and other non economic factors. Through the eyes of the BU household the BNB was a symbol of the progress Barbados had made from transitioning the economy from agrarian. It represented how majority Black Barbadians were in control of a significant financial intuition on Broad Street. If one wants to be political with the argument, it exposed the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) philosophy of reordering the economic fundamentals of the economy to make Barbados competitive in a competitive global world.  The ease with which Black politicians- Owen Arthur as lead  -disposed of what BNB should give cause for Barbadians to pause. The decision by Arthur is analogous to the Stuart DLP government dismantling its philosophy to provide ‘free’ education as a pathway for future development and empower a small Black nation.

It was interesting to listen to former Prime Minister of St. Kitts Denzel Douglas explain a few of the strategies he presided over that have  led to the transformation of the St. Kitts economy. He stated that the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank was important to the strategy of restructuring the debt because the government was able to intervene in the domestic financial market to align with the national interest. Given the current economic state of Barbados the government does not have the recourse of a local bank to borrow from an important best practice that was reportedly implemented successfully in St. Kitts and Nevis.

BU supports the view that a national bank is important to any nation to shore-up the sovereignty argument. One cannot be truly liberated as a people if the gateways to important arteries in the society are controlled by foreign interest. In the case of Barbados the banking sector is 100% controlled by foreign ownership. The food sector is 90 plus percent controlled by non Barbadian interest. The supply of electricity is controlled by foreign interest. In the three examples –the financial, food importation and distribution and power, a so called independent people have no control. We acknowledge that the Fair Trading Commission and government agencies were established to regulate the market in the interest of all stakeholders including the consumer .

The lengthy preamble is meant to introduce a recent development in Canada where the banks- locally owned -have agreed to pool resources in the interest of the country.

Canada’s biggest banks and insurance companies have launched a private-sector fund of up to $1 billion to provide long-term financing to burgeoning high-growth businesses, the firms announced Thursday. The Canadian Business Growth Fund will look to invest the full amount over 10 years, with an expected initial commitment of more than $500-million.

Canada’s banks and lifecos launch fund of up to $1 billion to help businesses grow

There is no need to be prolix to emphasize the point that home drums beat first. For non Barbadian owners of business enterprises in Barbados –where is home?

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – A Nation Under Law IV

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

BU shares the Jeff Cumberbatch Barbados Advocate column – Senior Lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies since 1983, a Columnist with the Barbados Advocate

Discrimination is not liberal. Arguing against discrimination is not intolerance – Richard Dawkins.

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Government Needs to Protect Small Businesses

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Perhaps more than many, I can empathise with individuals who have recently seen their business either fail or brought dangerously close to insolvency. In 47 years it has happened to me twice and in both cases, they were largely external forces which caused near personal financial catastrophe.

Of course, it is easy to attribute the blame to others but in my case, I can unequivocally state that both near failures, which occurred years apart, were largely caused by strike action in the United Kingdom. Both involving the National Union of Seaman. Personally witnessing bus loads, of what can only be described as pickaxe wielding thugs, destroying property and intimidating ordinary people simply wanting to go about everyday work and operating their businesses.

More than a decade later, it was the same union, blockading the English channel ports, which prevented literally thousands of our booked holidaymakers taking their hard earned trips.

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Peach and Quiet:Small Businesses Should Have the Right to Offset

The following is a communication which was sent to the VAT Office by Hotelier and social commentator Adrian Loveridge.

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

On or before the 15 March 2013, we will be expected to pay over to Government the amount of $37,526.60 in Corporation taxes due for the last financial year [2012]. If we do not pay on time, then there will be an immediate fine of 5% of the amount due, which equates to $1,876.33 plus interest accrued of 1% per month or 18% annually, which is 3 times the latest rate of Government borrowings to sustain a bloated public service and pay for dismally failed projects like GEMS (Hotels and Resorts Limited) and the chartering of Carnival Destiny for CWC2007.

As a small business that has operated on Barbados for twenty five years and has honoured all statutory obligations, it is a significant amount of money. Yet the same Government has owed us outstanding VAT refunds of nearly $30,000 for up to two years. Of course they have not paid us any late penalty charges or interest.

Before going public, I have written personally to the Ministers of the various Government bodies involved, but up until today not received any form of response.  It appears they feel they have no obligation to businesses that are successful, sustainable (through there own efforts) and those who have demonstrated viability over decades of operation. Yet week after week, it is almost impossible not to read or listen to endless rhetoric about the importance that small businesses will play in the recovery of our economy.

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Entrepreneurship Key to ‘Rebirthing’ This Fair Land

An entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities

Richard Branson believes an entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities

“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:

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Usury Interest Rates?

Adrian Loveridge – Hotel Owner

A couple of days ago we approached our bank about rates for a commercial mortgage and were quoted rates of between 11.5 and 14.5 percent interest. Yet only recently I saw an article where the banks were attempting to pressurize the Central Bank to lower the interest rate paid to depositors from the current minimum of 2.5 per cent.

How can we in the private sector and Government, at least giving lip service to encouraging small businesses and entrepreneurship, tolerate ludicrous spreads like this of 9 to 12 per cent?

We are already forced to accept a level of poor service that would simply not be put up with in the countries where many of these banks have their origins. Unanswered voicemail messages, because its almost impossible to speak to a human being, lengthy and time wasting queues, endless delays in trying to procure critical documentation and managers who feel they have no obligation to respond to the written requests of their customers.

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Government Must Not Kill The Golden Goose – Small Hotel Suffers 50 Percent Hike In Land Tax Valuation

Adrian Loveridge - Hotel Owner

Just when you were beginning to think that it was almost impossible to absorb anymore increased operational costs and stay in business, out of the blue comes yet another surprise. This time for us, its a 50 per cent hike in our Land Tax Valuation.

The number of hotels that have closed over the last 16 years now exceeds thirty and that fact surely cannot have escaped the authorities. Their closure doesn’t seem to indicate improved viability in the sector or that the value of the accommodation property has dramatically increased. So where on earth can there be any logic in re-assessing our small hotel upwards by over 16.6 per cent per annum for the next three years?

Of course, we can object, providing we do it within 30 days of receiving the notification, but a week has been lost already, as the assessment apparently took a week in the post to reach us from Bridgetown, judging by its issuance date. To give that objection any real credibility, we would have to have a professional valuation undertaken, which again takes time and at speculative additional cost. In our case, valuers have indicated at least $7,000 and at a time when we are probably experiencing one of most difficult trading periods for decades.

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP – Latest Buzz Word For Government

Sandra Husbands, Barbados Labour Party Candidate for St. James South

The revival of the demand for a relatively unknown entertainment licence has frustrated the efforts of many promoters to host Crop Over fetes resulting in losses for this sector. It is a reflection of the regard with which small businesses are held by government. This economic crisis has taken a toll on the small business sector that now reels from diminished spending power of its customers, and rising costs to do business, compliments of the international environment and government taxation policy. Hundreds of small shops, professional services, contractors, fisherfolk, retail shops, cosmetologists, IT service providers, general services providers are now operating on a third of the income they commanded in better years or in some cases closing. Loss of private sector jobs have come primarily in this sector as small business employers have been forced to cut hours, lay off, reduce purchases of goods and services. Many are unable to meet payments and statutory obligations such as rent, wages, loans, utilities, suppliers, increased licensing fees, NIS, PAYE, and VAT. The international environment and questionable government policy squeeze from both sides robbing these businesses of necessary oxygen to survive. Their demise affects significant investment capital, and the employment opportunities for the young graduates and school leavers, now some 12,000 strong. The growing number of empty commercial spaces is testimony to closures in this sector.

Taking government at its word that it is committed to the small business sector, in 2008, the request to government was as a strategy to aid the small business sector to survive the unfolding crisis was to ensure that 40% of government contracts worth 200m be distributed to this sector which would support close to 1000 small businesses. This would have protected more than 4000 jobs thus stabilising the unemployment figures without gov’t swelling the civil service. This money would flow through the economic system benefitting a wider network of persons into the retail and services sectors, banking system, large businesses etc, thus sustaining government revenues through VAT receipts, duties, income tax and corporation tax. Instead we witnessed a contraction in the use of small businesses in the tenders for government contracts, which have become concentrated into fewer hands.

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