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Business Monday: Serious Business: Why reinvent the wheel?

2/3/2014

“That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by” – Ecclesiastes 3:15

I spent the first ten of the last 15 years, with different teams of colleagues, first identifying the constraints to enterprise development in the Caribbean and then developing a model of concepts to alleviate these constraints. This was followed by a period of three and a half years successfully testing the concepts in Barbados and then the last 18 months promoting the Shepherding process in Trinidad and Tobago.

Steady economic growth is a primary objective of any country. Economic growth is fuelled by sustained enterprise development, one successful enterprise after another. A successful enterprise results from the expert management of the selection of the business idea and entrepreneur, a creative amalgam of seed and equity finance and the skilful application of life coaching and business mentoring. This is the Shepherding process and its promotion in Trinidad and Tobago has been an exercise of patience, perseverance and, I dare say, promise.

I have survived, as the Daily Word reminds me, because “I have reconnected with God in me. I have recognised that quiet times soothe my soul. As I turn my attention away from doing, I receive the gift of being. I release concerns about accomplishing tasks and affirm that what is mine to do is already done in the mind of God. As I let go of anxiety, I remember the truth that I in God, I am enough”. I have been reminded that there is nothing new under the sun.

The Trinidad market is replete with creativity and innovation and there are at least 15 Government initiatives, under at least six different Ministries, and at least one non-government organisation which support enterprise development.

Under the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development there are at least four entities: (1)The National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO – management of creative financing and support for all enterprises); (2) the National Integrated Business Incubation System (IBIS – an incubation system offering support services including mentoring, infrastructural support, ITC, operational support, financing, as well as networking for access to local and foreign markets); (3) Community Empowerment through Enterprise Development (CEED – an IBIS programme for community based enterprises); and (4) FairShare (FS – online data base of MSEs, funding and training).

Under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment there are at least three entities: (5) InvestTT (Portal for investors, customised investor solutions, knowledgeable sector experts, strategic alliances and an extensive network of real estate and technology parks); (6) ExportTT (development of a sustainable and diversified export sector); and (7) Evolving Tecknologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (e TecK – making suitable real estate available). Under the Ministry of Community Development there is at least one entity: (8) Export Centres Company Limited (ECCL – creating craft entrepreneurs).

Under the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development there are at least five entities: (9) CARIRI’s Centre for Enterprise Development (CED – building capacity and capability for enterprise creation); (10) Economic Development Board (EDB – reshaping strategies for economic development by facilitating diversification and achieving a diversified economy within the framework of sustainable development); (11) Council for Competitiveness and Innovation (CCI – taking action to make firms more competitive and expand exports); (12) Ideas to Innovation (i2i – a CCI competition to become a vehicle for the development of ideas with commercial potential) and (13) Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC – a Jamaica Science Research Council/CARIRI partnership to increase enterprise development of local climate technologies).

Under the Ministry of Finance and Economy there is at least one entity: (14) Trinidad and Tobago Investment Finance Centre (TTIFC – attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment in the Financial Services sector, that would enhance the growth and diversification of the economy by creating sustainable employment).

Under the Ministry of Education there is at least one entity: (15) The Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, University of the West Indies, St Augustine (BIZBOOSTER – primarily a SME growth centre and commercial business incubator facilitating access to space, funding, training and mentoring for start-ups and existing companies). In addition, there is at least one non-government organisation: (16) Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT – helping young persons to work for themselves by providing access to business loans and business mentoring).

My observation is that each of these entities is either providing or has the potential to provide a service(s) to entrepreneurs, as they set about developing their enterprises. Each entrepreneur has the same basic needs: quick response investment capital, life coaching and business mentoring. As far as I am aware there has been no objective assessment of the collective success of the above 16 entities in terms of their existing or potential contribution to economic growth, one enterprise after another.

Another observation is that access to quick response investment capital is the biggest single constraint to enterprise development, even though Trinidad and Tobago is blessed with one of the strongest financial sectors in the Caribbean. There is need for a single national quick response seed/equity fund which can be painlessly, prolifically and profitably funded by the private sector, with incentives from Government, to the benefit of all. Life coaching leaves much to be desired and business mentoring has to be taken to a higher level.

The CBET Shepherding Model has addressed all these issues, why reinvent the wheel? My passion, as a Caribbean consultant with over 45 years professional experience, is “Shepherding for Business Success”. The Shepherding process not only enhances the rate of business success but also acts as the collateral which protects the financial investment.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. - CBET - Columns are archived at www.cbetmodel.org)

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