I thought that I had a pretty good idea about business in Barbados; what was available and who did what, but in the last month or so, I’ve had a real eye-opener. I’ve discovered that there is a vast amount of talent and creativity in Barbadians and that makes me very optimistic about our future.
One such person is Paul Clarke, who I met just recently. He has his fingers in several pies but the one that we spoke about when we met was Entrepreneurs Anonymous.
Entrepreneurs Anonymous was birthed after Paul attended the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation’s Summit last year and he heard Sir Kyffin Simpson speak about some of his business interests outside of Barbados. Most of the people in the room had probably never known the extent of Sir Kyffin’s business empire, if I may call it that. That’s when Paul realised that there were probably a lot of entrepreneurs in Barbados who were doing great things and could inspire many others, but they were anonymous, or unknown, and their stories needed to be told.
Entrepreneurs Anonymous is actually a docudrama television series made up of 13 half-hour episodes, designed to provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to share their stories. The episodes will feature a different entrepreneur each week, looking at where they started, the advice they would give to other entrepreneurs and the keys to their success.
The show is anticipated to be broadcast on CBC TV 8 from October, on Caribvision and online via Trident 10.tv. A good cross section of entrepreneurs will be featured on the show, from musicians to chefs to real estate moguls and of course those involved in the very rapidly growing technology industry.
So we will get to see the end product, but from what Paul has told me, getting to this point has not been easy.
Governments often talk about trying to encourage business and enterprise, but it seems that the reality is that they only encourage those that they are familiar with, i.e. the traditional type of businesses. Similarly, you will hear banks and other financial institutions talking about wanting to help small businesses but if you bring a plan to them that does not have bricks and mortar to back it up they will hardly look at it. That’s been the experience Paul Clarke has had with trying to fund Entrepreneurs Anonymous.
I’m sure that many other entrepreneurs with non-traditional products and services are encountering that problem which is why we need to access new types of financing for the new businesses that are emerging in the market, many of which are technology-based and therefore have little in the way of physical assets to back a loan.
Thankfully Paul did not give up on his dream and eventually found and entered a joint venture with a British film producer. EA is now being licensed to Trinidad, St. Lucia and Jamaica. Discussions have also started regarding EA Music and EA Fashion. I can’t wait to see this docudrama.
More and more entrepreneurs are realizing that joint ventures are necessary and working together is a must if we are going to succeed in business. A recent workshop put on by BCSI on writing grant proposals provided clear evidence that funding agencies are not interested in funding individual businesses but are looking at joint ventures and clusters. In fact because Barbados is considered a developed nation, some agencies will not fund projects in Barbados at all. That only goes to reinforce the fact that we need to come together not only locally but also regionally, or in the case of EA, internationally.
The great thing about the Internet is that international funding is now not so farfetched. Crowd funding is becoming increasingly popular and if you visit sites such as Indiegogo.com, you will see numerous projects and causes listed seeking funds from people all over the world. That’s how President Obama funded a significant portion of his last campaign, by many people giving small amounts of money to a cause they believed in.
So we can look forward to seeing Entrepreneurs Anonymous on CBC TV 8, provided that we wean ourselves from the diet of foreign television for at least half an hour each week, and be encouraged to pursue our dreams and follow in the footsteps of those entrepreneurs who have courageously and unwaveringly followed theirs and who, against all odds, have begun to finally enjoy fulfilment.
Donna Every is a motivational speaker, business coach and the author of the books What do you have in your house?, The Promise Keeper, Arise and Shine and now the recently published novel, The Merger Mogul. She has a degree in Mathematics, is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. She is the Project Manager for the Education and Talent Development Pillar of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.
Web site: www.donnaevery.com See also www.themergermogul.com