Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of
thine heart. - Psalm 37:4
As we embark on another year, what shall be our focus
regarding sustainable economic development? Let us designate 2006 as the
Year of the Entrepreneur and let us seek divine guidance so that our desires
might be fulfilled.
Many will desire stable, gainful employment and by this they will mean
a job with an employer and a salary. The alternative is an opportunity
with a fee, where you are your own employer.
You have control if you are given the guidance and are willing to work
towards specific objectives. Set yourself up as a business, preferably
through a home office to increase convenience and reduce overheads. Avail
yourself of the latest in technology to offer your services to a client(s).
If this is readily adopted, we would be creating an entrepreneurial environment
which is conducive to higher levels of productivity, but which has responsibilities
in terms of management of change from the traditional to the innovative.
With the formal advent of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)
on January 1 2006, this entrepreneurial thrust must be an essential weapon
in the armoury of the governance of a country if we are to minimise the
inevitable dislocation that will arise from the freedom of movement of
people from country to country.
At this point I think that we should note that there is at least one area
of expertise, that is, in the Information and Communications Technology
sector, where it is virtually impossible to find individuals with the
required training and experience to take advantage of opportunities which
have been created by the ICT revolution.
The freedom of movement of people in the Caribbean is not going to solve
this, since, even if one country is more attractive to individuals skilled
in these areas, that will immediately create a problem in the country
from which the individuals have moved. There are two ways to solve this.
One is to be proactive and train your own people at a rate which is commensurate
with the level of demand. The other is to import resources from extra-regional
sources until the natural supply develops within the region.
I recall that, with the advent of PRT (an offshore software development
company) about ten years ago, a number of Masters degree resources had
to be imported from India . At that time it was proposed that the Barbados
Information Technology Institute should be established to augment the
supply of specialist resources, but this has been to no avail.
PRT and others have come and gone and Barbados is no further ahead as
a destination of choice for significant direct foreign investment or local
investment in the emerging ICT sector.
The Trade Union fraternity should be very concerned about these issues
and should be doing something proactively to urge the social partners
to become visionary and act with responsibility in addressing this problem.
I have also said, time and time again, that trade unions should, in the
new millennium, be focused on increasing the productivity of their members
for fair compensation to ensure that our workplace can be as competitive
as possible in the global environment.
There seems to be a temptation by trade unions to pursue the admirable
objective of enhancing the lot of their members in terms of increased
wages. However, even if they are successful at doing this, in industries
where productivity is low or which simply cannot afford the increase at
a given time, it will not be to the immediate good of the company nor
the ultimate national good. This will merely result in a shifting of the
burden across the tax net, without necessarily enhancing competitiveness
and stimulating economic growth. If we do not aim for sustainable economic
growth, our children and grandchildren will be dead in the water .
What, therefore, can we do?
CBET has developed a model to stimulate entrepreneurial activity supported
by management and money. Sunrise industries are beginning to emerge with
the potential to grow into large enterprises, through product diversification
and niche market expansion.
But, alas, this model too will not be successful unless the social partners
shoulder their responsibility. My experience is that, as we develop this
new CBET thrust, more and more resource persons are responding to the
virtual employment environment option.
I have also been pleasantly surprised and gratified to observe that both
the public and private sector are beginning to accept the responsibility
of contributing technical assistance and seed funding, in partnership
with the entrepreneur and CBET, in the early stages of enterprise development.
As CBET provides its facilitation services at the Opportunity Assessment,
Business Plan Development, and Start-Up Business Activity stages, more
and more support from the social partners will be required to mitigate
the risk and defray the initial costs associated with this early stage
of business development, if a respectable rate of growth in the economy
is to be sustained.
Also, the more businesses we have, the more virtual management resources
are going to be required to shepherd these businesses to success and,
in this context, CBET formally invites interested persons to seek further
information in this regard (firstname.lastname@example.org
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business
Enterprise Trust Inc. www.cbet-inc.org)