The Government of Barbados has taken the strong position that the country was being robbed of new businesses which could make a major revenue-earning difference to the economy.
In a passionate speech at the launch of the sixth National Innovation Competition at the Savannah Hotel, in Hastings, Christ Church this morning, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, argued that several potential multi-million-dollar innovative business plans were being “shot down” through funding agencies that were unwilling to assist — as well as jealousy on the part of others. “The majority of our people who have good ideas, who’ve done the business plan or got help with the business plan, cannot move it beyond that because no one, or institution, is willing to venture down the road with you — to take the chance to make a difference,” Jones asserted.
“So something that can explode, blossom into a multi million dollar product, or process or system, languishes and disappears, because the history of our country has still kept us poor for capital. People don’t like talking about these things, but they must be said in our reality.
“No one is willing to take a chance with you because, inevitably, if it takes off, with the chance taken, jealousy can predominate the behaviour of others.”
“‘Man look at the car he driving’, that is how it is said. They don’t say he took a chance and have become a millionaire,” he reasoned.
Jones suggested that Barbadians needed to get rid of that mindset.
“There was a man some years ago,” the minister recalled, “who took wrought iron [designed to be] to put in walls to strengthen them and things like that, and … shaped it into wrought iron tables with glass coverings, into chairs, benches and then could not get them sold.
“Because, why should you create a product like that, when I am doing something else here… I don’t want the competition — so I contact my brethren and squeeze you. So I have to move from production to sales. I have to keep it limited because I don’t have the quantity of resource to make it work.
“The poison in the body of the nation, weakens the nation.”
Minister Jones said he was of the view that part of the problem in Barbados was that as the island and its people developed, rather than adapt and change, many of the indigenous systems and processes and ideas, “sophistication caused them to reject them”.
“We create a taste that is more suited to the packaged products of others, rather than to our own,” he added. (EJ)