Opinion: Enterprise development

POSTED: 03/13/16 7:29 PM

By Dr. Basil Springer – I promised two weeks ago to embark systematically on “the management and enterprise development” series of columns to address the specific needs of start-up and evolving businesses. After an interlude on West Indies cricketing trust: the way forward, I now attempt to fulfill my promise.

In March 2013, at the launch of the Barbados Chapter of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants, Dr. Andrew Downes, Professor of Economics and Pro Vice Chancellor (Planning and Development) at the University of the West Indies, gave the feature address entitled Strategies for Accelerating Growth in the Barbadian Economy. His comprehensive PowerPoint presentation may be downloaded at www.cbetmodel.org .

Although the focus was on Barbados, Professor Downes’ presentation was sufficiently generic that his thesis of policies and strategies could apply to any small developing country.

Three years have gone by and the countries of the Caribbean are still struggling to sustain a positive growth rate despite the excellent analysis and proposed strategies advocated by Professor Downes. Why is this?

(1) Is it because we are not visionaries, are wedded to our past experiences in terms of perceived opportunity sectors for growth and are not keeping up with technology change?

(2) Is it because we are risk averse and not creative enough to mobilize funding at our disposal at home and abroad?

(3) Is it because we are too timid to venture into the global market which will securely increase our market foot print?

(4) Is it because we have not developed our human assets to the fullest and suffer from low levels of productivity which impact our competitiveness?

(5) Is it because our operational efficiency has frustrated our attempt at profitability and sustainability. Indeed, is it some or all of the above?

Over the last sixteen years, my focus has shifted from managing a consulting company to the less arduous but equally challenging assignment of giving advice to emerging businesses in the Caribbean. I may add that this latter activity, from a quality of life perspective, is indeed more appropriate for the retirement phase of my professional career.

Over the last two and a half years, I have been privileged to interact with start-up businesses in the Trinidad and Tobago marketplace. This has augmented my very stimulating experiences in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in particular.

It has been very clear to me that there is no shortage of new ideas and innovations, which form the nucleus for enterprise development and hence economic growth in the region.

These growth prospects come mainly from relatively young minds, who are very au courant with today’s technology changes.

Just a gentle reminder that economic growth can only take place “one successful businesses after another” or, as one of these enquiring young minds reminded me last week, “several successful businesses at a time.”

There is no shortage of money in the Caribbean for this enterprise development sector. The problem is access to the money. How can we mitigate risk and make it more attractive for investors to invest in the enterprise development sector?

I have promoted, ad nauseam, in this column the concept of the CBET Shepherding Model™ and the accompanying ManOBiz™ Matrix, a Shepherding tool, to mitigate risk. There should be no need for me to repeat it again except to remind you that the combined seed/equity instrument is more appropriate than the loan instrument for emerging entrepreneurs.

The ideas that emerge from these young minds, when coupled with the Social Media Marketing (SMM) revolution, define a new economic growth sector. We may call this the enterprise development growth sector.

The goal of SMM is to produce innovative product and service content that users will share, facilitated by the Internet, with their global social network to increase brand awareness and sales. Talk about a shrinking global village!

What I can say that is new, is a currently evolving enhancement of the Model which I think will be a hit with young entrepreneurs because it will help them to develop their innovation in a more focused manner, when they need it most, with no cost at the point of delivery. More anon, watch this space!

When we pay attention to issues of corporate governance, finance, marketing, people development and work smarter rather than harder, then the profits will grow, businesses become sustainable, the rate of economic growth will increase, individuals will become wealthier, governments will have more money for regulatory and service functions, if they design viable tax systems and collect the taxes due. In such a case we all win.

Let us pursue the task of developing this enterprise development sector with spiritual energy and enthusiasm. Let us remember that obsession with self will usually lead to a dead end. Let us opt for accessing the energy of the divine within us thus supercharging mind, body and spirit. All this as we make our contribution to the development of our fellow man.

Dr. Basil Springer

The author is a Change-Engine Consultant at Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc.

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