Barbadians need to move past the notion that they should only save their money and start embracing the concept of investment.
This view was expressed on Thursday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, at a panel discussion on Investing in Barbados: Creating a Venture Capital Fund, at the Barbados Network Consultation 2016, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“Barbadians, for the most part, I consider to be traditional savers, and savers as opposed to investors. And, that perhaps accounts in significant measure for the high liquidity in the banking sector,” Senator McClean stated.
However, she noted that due to the size of Barbados’ economy, there were only a few public companies and a limited range of investment options.
“I mentioned before the reality that faces the Barbados Stock Exchange in terms of trying to generate business…so, when we start to talk about a venture capital fund or some other investment vehicle, we have …to understand and perhaps address the conditions and traditions in Barbados.
“Having said that, we have to ultimately focus on a number of issues which have to be addressed, such as, ‘how do we get Barbadians to invest in companies?’ And, the point I am making is that we have to be in a position to get Barbados to think investment,” she emphasised.
To achieve this, she said, there were some basic strategies that needed to be implemented.
“One of the first steps of course is to invest in an established company. Typically, we would want to get Barbadians to invest in public companies; with private companies you can do that too. However, the tradition is to invest in public companies – Goddard’s Enterprises, Sagicor, Barbados Light & Power, and so on. And, that is something that we have to look at,” the Minister recommended.
Senator McClean also advised the audience that the thinking of Barbadian consumers and savers must be reoriented, and businesses must be encouraged to create opportunities for investors.
While acknowledging that this would be a challenge, she noted that persons had to be clear on what they were hoping to achieve and what was the overriding goal and objective of the investor.
“Are we looking to mobilise resources to provide local entrepreneurs who are focusing on the local, domestic or at most the regional market, or are we looking at investors with access to global opportunities? And, if you think in terms of the theme for this Diaspora Conference, we are talking about shaping global citizens not just to be consumers in that space but of course look to capitalise on investment opportunities…,” she stated.
Other speakers at the panel discussion were Currency Officer at the Central Bank, Sherry Bishop; Aidan Rogers of the Barbados Renewable Energy Association; and entrepreneur, Adrian Gill.