The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc. (BEF) has recorded significant progress in the collaboration to ensure that Barbados is the ‘# 1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020’. According to the BEF Programme Manager, Christopher Harper, the Foundation recently published it’s first Annual Report which highlights the main accomplishments of the BEF and it’s local, regional and international volunteer team.
One of the major achievements of the BEF is the Business Facilitation Pillar’s effort to provide 100% free WiFi coverage across Barbados. The Pillar has secured the delivery of 60% free WiFi coverage across Barbados including over 100 free WiFi access points, twelve (12) of which are 1-2 km ‘mushroom’ access areas.
The Education and Talent Development pillar has recorded the successful hosting of the $20 and Class Room to Board Room Challenges, which are both entrepreneurial competitions within schools. According to Harper, the Foundation is working towards increasing the number of Classroom to Boardroom challenges and towards 100% participation of government and private secondary schools in the $20 challenge with at least 1,000 students participating.
In the area of Government Policy, the Pillar’s efforts have lead towards the incorporation of the BEF’s overarching mission into the new Protocol 6 of the Social Partnership. Additionally, labour leaders and senior government officials now sit on BEF’s board and volunteer within Government Policy Pillar to ensure that the organisations work in an effective partnership.
Harper further added that funding continues to be a major hurdle for entrepreneurs. In an effort to alleviate such constraints, the Finance Availability Pillar has established an Angel Capital Network to provide a formal source of angel funding to entrepreneurs and to understand the volume of transactions in need of funding on the island. To date, the Finance pillar has compiled a list of thirty-five (35) potential investors and five (5) persons are now committed to participation in the project. The operational framework to be used to connect entrepreneurs to investors has also been designed.
The vision of making Barbados the ‘# 1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020’ will also require that business knowledge and experiences are shared to strengthen young entrepreneurs. To this end, the Mentorship and Networking Pillar has developed the, ‘Enterprise/Mentor Matching and Monitoring online Information System (E/MMMIS)’. This platform helps an enterprise to find a Shepherd with expertise in the elements of management (planning, organizing, staffing, leading and monitoring) and experience in a given economic sector. The Shepherd then accesses other mentors who are specialists in the functions of business, such as corporate structure, marketing, operations (technical, administrative, bookkeeping) and ICT (human resource development, investment finance) to meet the entrepreneur’s dynamic needs.
The recently published Annual Report highlights that the five (5) Pillar teams identified above have been working assiduously on the vision of the Foundation. Harper adds that the organisation continues to work on facilitating the development of an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and is on the cusp of producing its third (3rd) National Entrepreneurs’ Summit under the theme, ‘Be Inspired’.
Download Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Annual Report 2011 here.