Now regarded as one of the most lucrative engines of growth for the Barbados economy, entrepreneurship has become a spirit that is set to bring new possibilities to an otherwise narrowly developed economy.
Recognized both by government and the private sector as a culture that can push the island’s development to new levels, in a highly vulnerable environment, entrepreneurship can bring varying niches, job and wealth creation and great creativity to Barbados. However by their very nature, entrepreneurs are rule-breakers who do not easily conform to restrictions or traditions.
But the recognition for the development does not stop at the national level, as CARICOM the regional governing body for integration has acknowledged the importance of entrepreneurship stating that our economies require vigorous, innovative entrepreneurship, working within a framework of soundly conceived and efficiently implemented Government policies towards a diversified and competitive economic structure.
But one of the most dedicated entities which has been developed purely for the development of entrepreneurship is the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation. The Foundation which was established in 2010 has as its vision for Barbados; “To be #1 Entrepreneurial Hub In The World by 2020.” To make sure that they stay focused on development in the critical areas, the Foundation has developed 5 pillars to harness its energies in the direction of , Finance Availability, Government Policy, Education and Talent Development, Mentorship and Business Facilitation. These pillars are all led by champions who have expertise in each area and sits on the board of the foundation.
Traditionally, Barbados has always had a small business sector which was born from a need to provide for a family, and where earning a living was the bottom line. Now in the last 20 -30 years entrepreneurship seems to have developed to a more creative means, and innovative thinkers and business executives such as Bizzy Williams, James Husbands and Kyffin Simpson have become icons in their field. Even more recently, fashion designers, artists, event planners, writers, musicians, medical practitioners have increasingly explored entrepreneurial opportunities.
But now the time has dawn for entrepreneurship to move from simply a possibility for the few, to the preferred opportunity of the many. But for that to take root, work of organisations like the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation has to be realized sooner rather than later. Additionally the culture and mentality of Barbadians has to advance to a place where they move beyond simply looking for job and recognize that through their innovation and creativity, harnessed in an entrepreneurial spirit, that the possibilities could be limitless. Human resources have always been Barbados’ biggest and best asset, as education and literacy were high even during colonial times, this being one of the main factors that contributed to Barbados being a hub for business and trade in that era.
As the entrepreneurship spirit grows and becomes the preferred option for talented people across the island, government too has a role to play, to inculcate the entrepreneurship spirit. According to CARICOM governments need to: give general guidance and orientation for the economy as a whole and for its various sectors; engage in sound national economic management and the pursuit of focused developmental policies; provide adequate infrastructure and other supporting services; undertake programmes to improve the quality of human resources to increase national productivity and to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth and income; ensure the adequate mobilization and availability of venture capital, especially equity capital, and undertaking industrial promotion, research and development and export market identification and development; and engaging in production ventures where private initiative is unsuitable or proving unresponsive.
Given the vulnerability of Barbados as small island economy operating in the midst of a world recession, the time is ripe for entrepreneurship to take root. Moreover given the explosion of technology, opportunities transcends borders. Moreover entrepreneurship does not have to stick to the traditional economic sectors such as tourism and agriculture. Opportunities abound in recycling, film development and export, cultural services, technology development and medical services to name a few. With these opportunities it is necessary for entrepreneurs who are focused and passionate to consider the best options for building their business. Entrepreneurs think long-term in their strategy and develop business plans that build the business. Additionally entrepreneurs know their market place not just their product or service and they are constantly looking at how they can provide for the projected needs of their market. Other major keys for entrepreneurs unlocking the possibilities include knowing the competition, and using public relations and media; social or mass to the benefit of your business.
The opportunities are endless. It’s now a matter of harnessing energies and resources for entrepreneurship to mature in Barbados.Stacia Browne – Entrepreneur and Volunteer at the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation