A call is being made for a change in the mindset of Barbadians towards entrepreneurship.
The appeal came on Wednesday from Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland.
He was addressing the awards ceremony of the CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, UWI Student Entrepreneurial Empowerment Development (SEED) Business Plan Competition, at the 3Ws Pavilion of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus.
While noting that persons need to support positive interruptions and innovative approaches to transition the current entrepreneurial class, the minister said: “Given the economic climate in which we operate, where increasingly more is now at stake, there is urgent need for a national entrepreneurial reset, which must be driven by an academic response that does not only boast of creative thought or intent, but one that has as its core resolve, meaningful engagement and timely implementation.”
Emphasizing that the country had suffered from lack of timely implementation in the past, he called on higher learning institutions like UWI, to turn vision into practice, and replace talk with bold action “even in such circumstances where commitment to a status quo that is regressive is no longer encouraged as a reasonable response”.
Mr. Sutherland also noted that in this era, universities had to develop and equip their human assets with the orientation and capacity for spontaneous responses to wide ranging opportunities, near and far.
“You must see yourselves as an integral source of talent and ideas, as you serve as economic magnets for investments, entrepreneurs and talent to the region.
“Further, your role in economic development must continue to be increasingly magnified, given the fact that there is considerable leverage that can accrue through your agenda of core education, research and development, and other critical spill overs,” he said.
Faculty at the UWI were told that any effort to promote and facilitate entrepreneurship education had to be grounded in the ability to strengthen capacity to create ideas and innovation, and to accelerate their business application.
He also noted that there was a role for the UWI in spearheading entrepreneurship education at the primary and secondary levels.
Lauding SEED, he said the initiative was “intended in a practical way, to promote entrepreneurship within the context of an environment driven by empirical validation”.
With respect to SEED’s competition, the Entrepreneurship Minister acknowledged this sought to unleash the creative imagination of a generation that must be appropriately equipped to tackle the challenges of socio-economic dislocation.
Finalists in the 2019 competition were Kemar Codrington and Mikhail Eversley of Oasis Laboratory; Franz Harewood-Hamblin – Grow Smart Youth Farm; Shakayla Jordan – Baem’bu Box; Katrina Reece-Burley – Just Believe Children’s Salon and Sherry-Ann Waithe – Elohim’s Senior Care Home.
Following a synopsis of their business mission and objectives, two entities emerged joint first-place winners of the competition – Oasis Laboratory and Grow Smart Youth Farm.