The Barbados Third Sector – Opportunities for collaboration to increase social impacts

Current Picture Research commissioned in October 2014 on behalf of Aspire Foundation (Barbados) Inc. revealed that Barbados Charities, Not-For-Profits and NGOs, (The Third Sector), are very active and growing. There were in excess of 1,000 registered charities at that time providing help to many worthy and urgent social needs including the poor, the homeless, the […]

By Peter N. Boos

October 6, 2016

Black Belly sheep at the Verdun House Farm Black Belly sheep at the Verdun House Farm

Current Picture

Research commissioned in October 2014 on behalf of Aspire Foundation (Barbados) Inc. revealed that Barbados Charities, Not-For-Profits and NGOs, (The Third Sector), are very active and growing. There were in excess of 1,000 registered charities at that time providing help to many worthy and urgent social needs including the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the sick, persons with disabilities, ‘at risk’ youth, environmental sustainability, special education, youth entrepreneurship, the Creative Industries etc..

A long and commendable list indeed however the story does not end there.

The Research also indicated that these Third Sector Organizations’ (TSOs) sustainability is under constant threat due to inadequate skills, resources, marketing and communication as well as the lacking collaborative culture, and a supportive Regulatory environment.

Additional research conducted via an electronic survey of the Private Sector in late 2015 revealed that almost 70% of companies surveyed had no formal Corporate Social Responsibility programme/plan to guide their philanthropic efforts.

Most companies that support The Third Sector do so via cash donations (85%) and very few (less than 30% engage in formal staff volunteering or other resources sharing initiatives). Most companies (over 70%) do not effectively measure their philanthropic efforts.

Interestingly and tellingly, over 90% of companies surveyed think that the Private Sector should play a greater role in helping to address and solve social concerns in Barbados.

The Gap

These two pieces of research show clearly there is a great opportunity for collaboration between the Third Sector and The Private Sector, which will deliver greater impact and build social bridges for greater communication and understanding, and a culture of caring and sharing.

This need to collaborate becomes much more urgent in the current economic climate where Government expenditures are severely constrained following almost 8 years of slow growth and rising public debt and fiscal deficits.

ASPIRE-helping charities help

Recognizing these circumstances, the creation of the Aspire Foundation (Barbados) Inc. in 2015 will help bridge this gap by strengthening TSOs via an incubator and certification programme leading on to connecting them with the appropriate resources to enable sustainability.

For full details of the work of ASPIRE and to participate see

Social Cohesion

Barbados is a small developing country (population about 285,000 living on 166 square miles) celebrating 50 years of independence on 30 November 2016. It is a stable democracy with a strong reputation for having a well-educated population that respect law and order.

Economic challenges since 2007 have persisted and are putting great strain on Society. Poverty rates are increasing as Government expenditure budgets get cut.

Historical realities have and continue to play a part in the developmental model.

The Social Partnership promotes collaboration between Government, Labour and The Private Sector, that has been useful but needs greater impetus now.

Creating Greater social Impact: A Case Study

The Substance Abuse Foundation Inc., a registered Barbados Charity, provides residential addiction treatment services to adult men (Verdun House) and women (Marina House).

The recovery methods involve teaching clients various skills to enable them to live sustainable lives in society once sober. One of the several skills programmes is the development and management of ‘micro-businesses’ including animal and vegetable farming and a bakery.

SAF use the produce from these businesses both to feed the residential community at the two treatment centres and to sell to the public to raise much-needed revenue. Whilst SAF has strong Philanthropic support it needs to reduce its reliance on donors and expand its own income producing opportunities. This is a both a challenge and an opportunity.

The staff and persons in recovery at Verdun and Marina Houses provide the labour and management for these operations. In the process SAF clients learn many skills that prepare them for independent living.

In the case of the bakery one of the ingredients used is breadfruit, which grows in abundance in the parish of St. John the location of both treatment centres. Maintaining a reliable supply of breadfruit and having reliable markets for sale of the pot-pies (breadfruit with lentil or spinach ) produced are critical requirements for sustainability.

Now here is where innovation can help to expand the potential impacts of the Verdun Bakery.

Innovation at the Verdun Bakery

The SAF can develop supply contracts working with local communities in St. John. This will have favourable impacts on both the community (work and income) and the bakery (reliable supply of ingredients). Further, a private sector food distribution or retail company could partner with SAF to buy and distribute the pot-pies. The Verdun Bakery already sells some of its products via SOL Service stations.

This idea can go further and provide greater benefits to all stakeholders. If the private sector company, the breadfruit/agriculture growing community and SAF created a joint venture co-operative, it is not difficult to imagine that such a partnership could lead to diversification of the bakery products and greater sales, expansion and inclusion of more breadfruit (and other crops) farmers, opportunity for the Private Sector to engage its management and other staff in managing the co-operative and expanding its sales.

Benefits to all stakeholders

Such a private sector social entrepreneur would undoubtedly find opportunities to work with the farmers and SAF in a way that would give them an opportunity to engage their staff in the TSO community whilst simultaneously favourably impacting their own sales opportunities, growing revenues for farmers and expanding the bakery operations at Verdun House.

What I like most about this model is that it has genuine commercial purpose and provides benefits to all stakeholders with obvious potential for further development and adaptation.

Apart from the obvious commercial benefits, such collaboration brings together in a genuine meaningful way, societal players from all walks of life and many communities. This can only leader to a more cohesive society where all stakeholders can contribute equally and celebrate together the impact created.

Seek and you shall find (opportunity)

All TSOs, without exception, can develop value propositions for their products and services that are potentially attractive to the Private Sector (and other philanthropists and donors). Value propositions come in many different shapes and sizes.

To quote the Stanford Social Innovation Review of 14 September 2016:

“If we want to see more cross-sector collaborations, we have to get better at crossing sectors. What this entails, at a very tactical level, is that social change leaders intent on recruiting the private sector into their network, craft business cases that clearly articulate the value of engaging. A business leader needs to see a clear path to participation, sense how that participation will serve a high-priority business need, and feel confident that their commitment is both well-defined and tightly bound. At the heart of any social impact network that involves businesses is a value exchange that gives both business and social change leaders a reason to make participation a strategic priority. Social change leaders have a better shot at engaging the private sector if they can provide value to companies, both directly to their core lines of business and indirectly by addressing their broader needs.”


A Call To Action

Aspire Foundation (Barbados) Inc. is working with TSOs engaged in the incubator and certification programme, to build business plans that will show the value propositions attractive to the private sector and other resourced entities.

It does not take much imagination to envision a Barbados society actively working together at the community level for the benefit of us all. Stakeholders must see the potential opportunity and be willing to invest in collaboration. This can only lead to greater stability, social cohesion and economic growth.

Peter N. Boos

Chairman Emeritus Ernst & Young Caribbean (since 2004); Founding partner Business Barbados publication (1999) and the Barbados business web portal (2009); Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Substance Abuse Foundation Inc. (1996 to date); Founding Sponsor (2009) and First Chairman (2009-2014) Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc.; Founder of the Peter Boos Foundation (2004), (supporting youth development, entrepreneurship, education, addiction treatment, environmental protection, arts & culture development, relief of poverty and support of various community and charitable causes); Founder, Patron and first chairman ASPIRE Foundation (Barbados) Inc. - 'helping charities help' to strengthen and expand the Barbados Third Sector (2014 to date).

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