Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation
It is now six months since the 2010 Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation summit where the bold vision “To be the #1 entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020” was confirmed as our mandate. Also of significance with regard to the summit has been the ongoing consolidation of the inputs from the pillar breakout groups. The information collected at that time has been used to create the pillar missions and our 2011 measures of success, all of which align horizontally with each other, and vertically with the 2020 vision. This article provides a brief synopsis of our progress to date, highlighting the work of the devoted volunteers involved in this inspirational national initiative.
Leading the way for the BEF is the “11:11:11:On” Project which is designed to create 100% free, wireless Internet access to Barbadians island wide. In addition to CEO Damian McKinney engaging all three of the large telecoms, there has been an aggressive campaign to encourage businesses and householders alike to unlock their networks in an effort to create as many Wi-Fi hotspots across the island. These hotspots can be tracked on www.wifispottr.com. The response to this campaign has been very encouraging and the Wi-Fi Team is passionately working towards achieving this ambitious goal.
Also of worthy note is the work that is being done in the area of education for entrepreneurs. The Education and Talent development Pillar, through a strategic partnership with the Cave Hill School of Business, has been involved in making valuable input in to an audit of enterprise coverage in education in Barbados. This project is also in conjunction with the Kelley School of Business, Indiana USA, and funded by USAID. The pillar has also designed a national competition which seeks to attract fourth year secondary students across the island and inspire greater interest in entrepreneurship in the young people of Barbados as well as the country as a whole.
In addition to some of the visible projects, management of the BEF has sought to engage several key stakeholders and the support has been overwhelming. Of special note is the meeting with the Congress of Trade Unions & Staff Associations of Barbados, after which, President, Cedric Murrell, agreed to sit on the board of the BEF. Significant support was shown for the BEF when its vision “To be the #1 entrepreneurial hub in the world by 2020” was written into section 2.1 (i) “Specific Major Objectives” of Protocol VI of the Social Partnership. This was further reinforced on May 16th at a press conference hosted by the BEF at which representatives of the Social Partners, John Williams (Barbados Private Sector Association), Dennis De Peiza (Congress of Trade Unions & Staff Associations of Barbados) and Senator Harry Husbands (Government), endorsed the BEF’s vision for Barbados and applauded the work that has been done so far.
On the lighter side of the BEF, there are the monthly Entrepreneur Forums. The Forums are designed to educate and inspire entrepreneurs and business professionals, as well as facilitate networking opportunities. Hosted at the Plantation Garden Theatre, the ambiance of the meetings is very relaxed and comfortable and all interested people are made welcome. Each month the invited featured presenters openly share their knowledge and experience with the audience, which is usually over 100 attendees. In March, through the kind assistance of the British High Commission, we had the privilege to present Piers Linney, who is of Barbadian descent and one of Britain’s most successful black entrepreneurs. He delivered an inspiring presentation and even made time to meet socially with a group of young technology entrepreneurs, which is the area of special interest to him. Clips of Piers’ presentation can be viewed on our website at www.barbadosentrepreneurshipfoundation.org.
The BEF is committed to achieving its 2011 success measures and by extension, its vision “To be the #1 in the world by 2020”. This is evident by the hard work and significant progress we have made in these short six months of our existence. Further evidence of our work and progress can be found on our website in the January – April activities report which gives a more detailed report of the activities of each pillar.