What is needed in Barbados is the creation of an entrepreneurial society in which innovation and entrepreneurship are normal and perceptible, says Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland.
This view was shared by the Minister last Wednesday at the Annual General Meeting and Forum of the Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants’ (CICMC) Barbados Chapter, at the headquarters of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries on Harbour Road.
Addressing the topic: Building a Culture of Entrepreneurship, Minister Sutherland stressed that some 10 years after the initial effects of the global financial crisis, the island still found itself struggling to return to a state of ‘normalcy’, and he queried whether yesterday’s ‘normal’ was attainable or even relevant today.
He mused: “Can we achieve Barbados’ former glory by using antiquated thinking and old paradigms to rebuild our economy? To this I say yes and no. Yes, we can reclaim our glorious past – once we can conceive it, we can achieve it – but, we must revolutionize and modernize how we conduct ourselves and execute our processes.”
Pointing out that Government was fully aware of and supported this view, he contended that with unconventional thoughts, strategic focus and deliberate action in collaboration with various partners, like CICMC members, the country could and must find sustainable solutions for overcoming the current period of economic adversity.
He cautioned, however, that the challenge remained determining the most effective way to cultivate and nurture this new thinking and how to propel the necessary shift in culture.
Explaining how an entrepreneurial culture could be created in a world more closely interconnected, he recommended empowering the population to think and act in an entrepreneurial way even if it is not the natural way to behave.
“By creating the appropriate eco-system and environment, individuals, organizations and the wider society will be motivated to take risks and experiment with ideas without fear or criticism and reprisals from failure, which is always a part of the journey to recognise any dream,” he emphasized.
According to him, the new eco-system would be characterized as one where dreamers are encouraged to dream; formality and bureaucracy in processes are replaced by spontaneity and open-mindedness in problem-solving; and creativity, learning and innovation are supported and embraced.
Delineating how such an “ambitious paradigm shift” could be facilitated to ensure the development of this entrepreneurial class and propel socio-economic growth, the Minister pointed out that Government, through his Ministry, had embarked on a number of national developmental initiatives and wealth-creating opportunities.
These were outlined as the recently-launched Trust Loan Fund, a facility to provide capital for micro, small and medium enterprises; and the establishment of a Financial Literacy Bureau, which will be undertaken shortly to provide essential business mentorship and training in basic financial literacy programmes.
Furthermore, he stressed the role of programmes being executed by the Ministry and associated business support organizations to offer technical and managerial support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, including the Small Business Development Centre model.
Contending that Barbados could achieve the coveted entrepreneurial success of other hubs such as Silicon Valley, Mr. Sutherland added the island could build a vibrant start-up community if the key partners and stakeholders who support growth worked together.
“Undoubtedly, our shared values and commitment to building a better society with opportunities for people in all segments of our population is what has brought us here and will be the glue that unites us as we rebuild Barbados citizen by citizen,” the Commerce Minister said.