“Read, read, read! You have to read, read, read and search for information where ever you can find it and be like a sponge as you cannot have too much information.”
This was the advice given by guest speaker Professor Cardinal Warde to more than 300 students and guests attending the Barbados Community College’s inaugural Distinguished Voices in the Community Lecture recently, at the Frank Collymore Hall.
Starting his presentation with the declaration towards inspiring the young students present to embrace the key words of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity to help solve many of the problems that plague Barbados and the region in general.
He noted: “In the region we are not known for entrepreneurship.”
In providing a definition for entrepreneurship, Warde stated: “The willingness, the capacity, the urge, the fire in the belly to create new businesses in spite of the difficulties, trials and tribulations of being a business owner with the idea that you will make a profit or serve humanity in some way because some businesses are non-profit organisation and entrepreneurs are involved in these as well. There is a lot of risk involved in entrepreneurship and most entrepreneurs are creative.”
He identified a number of challenges affecting the Caribbean region such as weak entrepreneurship culture, high unemployment, high import bill – low exports, weak infrastructure (roads, schools, ports, etc.), educational systems in need of reform, low levels of relevant research and development, food and energy insecurity.
“It is never too late to be an innovator; we should always be creative and it is never too late to be an entrepreneur,” the lecturer at MIT said.
Speaking directly to the students in the audience, he stated: “The fact there are challenges in the community and problems in the region that need to be solved means that there are opportunities.
Help solve problems
“There are opportunities to use your creative juices, become innovative, start businesses and become entrepreneurs and help solve some of the problems either for the benefit of community or hopefully for your personal benefits. Hopefully the two go together and you can become embarrassing wealthy while helping the community.”
On the issue of sustainable energy generation in the region, the professor said he hoped that the major breakthroughs could lead to exports in energy system to bring in more foreign exchange.
“We need to sell more things outside of the region to others,” he added. “Water in some parts of the region is a problem. Sources of fresh drinking water are becoming more and more of a scarce commodity. The cost is astronomical for providing fresh water for some countries.
“Manufacturing is almost non-existence in the region except maybe in Trinidad, this is a huge opportunity for the right kind of people for the right kinds of talent…
“I am happy to see that young entrepreneurs are indeed getting into ICT throughout the region. In information and communication technology you do not need a lot of money to start your own business. The playing field is level worldwide with regards to ICT. Students and adults here in the Caribbean can compete against the best students in China and India.”