Leaders around the world face the challenge of creating meaningful employment and economic growth, and high value creating entrepreneurship is the way to do it. Yet most leaders are uncertain about exactly how to go about building the programs, policies, and culture to bring out the entrepreneurial spirit that almost always is lurking beneath the surface. And most of them believe it will take decades to show meaningful results.

The Vision of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation is to help transform Barbados into the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020.

This is challenging and requires education, consensus, commitment, persistence, focused execution and measurement.

In cultivating this Entrepreneurial Hub, we are concerned with answering the questions of Daniel Isenberg of Babson College’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Enhancement Projects (Forbes-May 2011) where he wonders:

“Is there method to this entrepreneurial madness? Are these random events, or can we identify, or even cultivate, the conditions in which value-creating entrepreneurial ventures like these will thrive?” and “What exactly is this entrepreneurship ecosystem that is generating so much buzz these days?”

In answer to these questions, Isenberg outlines the following four characteristics necessary to cultivate healthy entrepreneurship ecosystems:

“1.       The entrepreneurship ecosystem consists of six domains: Culture, Policy, Finance, Human Capital, Markets and Supports (see diagram).

Characteristics of Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

2.       Each entrepreneurship ecosystem is unique.

3.       Specifying generic root causes of the entrepreneurship ecosystem has limited practical value.

4.       Entrepreneurship ecosystems become (relatively) self-sustaining.” – Daniel Isenberg

The Babson Global diagram titled “Domains of the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem,” provided in the first point is the most important characteristic as it can be used a guideline for Barbados. In keeping with the Babson Ecosystem Model, Barbados is weakest in the areas of Culture, Government Entrepreneurship Policy and diversified financial capital solutions.

However we are relatively strong in Support professions, Human Capital and Markets.

Still, the most challenging of these to change is our culture. This is going to take time and the support of all stakeholders. Leadership from all sectors is critical.

Yet, Barbados can quickly move forward in strengthening its Entrepreneurship Ecosystem by strategically seeking to attract international entrepreneurial partners into sectors where we already have strong competencies. For example in wellness, sports, education, professional services outsourcing, English language tuition, the creative sectors, renewable energy, food production, entertainment, private wealth management, social entrepreneurship, software development and ICT related industries.

Protocol VI of the Barbados Social Partnership of May 2011 contains this objective:

“The pursuit of global economic expansion through a policy of attracting highly skilled individuals and international entrepreneurs in strategic sectors of the economy, to make Barbados The Number One Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020, with a view to developing new skills, attracting investment in new economic sectors and increasing exports.”

In the area of financial capital solutions the gaps can be quickly filled. For example in 2014 the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) will establish an Angel Investor Network. Venture Capital funds will soon follow. BEF has also recommended an Entrepreneurship Charter to the Government for adoption. Much progress is expected in 2014.

With the Government’s recently promulgated measures to shrink Public Sector spending, fiscal deficits and debt, the time is absolutely right for Barbados to rapidly invest strategically in its Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

This is the essential foundation for Barbados to achieve its vision to be the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the World by 2020.

About the Author

Peter N. Boos
Peter N. Boos - Chairman Emeritus, Ernst & Young Caribbean

Chairman Emeritus Ernst & Young Caribbean (since 2004); Founding partner Business Barbados publication (1999) and the Barbados business web portal BusinessBarbados.com (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).