It was heartening to hear the Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, making the request for two strategic agencies under his ministry to work more closely together.
These two agencies, the BIDC and Fund Access, are critical organisations in the development of small businesses in Barbados. It seems that with this request comes the reassignment of budgets and will see the BIDC having less responsibility for finances and those resources being redirected to Fund Access.
This, on the surface, is a sensible move and we commend the minister for taking this step to remove some of the confusion from the business development process.
We hope that with this new edict, the micro, small and medium enterprise sector and prospective entrepreneurs will experience fewer delays and we can begin to see renewed traction as they set about to develop their businesses for the overall betterment of the Barbadian economy.
One other pronouncement from the minister, which caught our attention, was that we needed as a nation to stop paying “lip service” to the abundance of creativity that abounds in young people. He went on to say that his ministry would be working closer with the Barbados Community College, UWI and SJPP among others, to assist in the commercialisation of projects.
We believe that we need to go further than this. The process of education must begin a lot sooner. Ideas do not just come about at this tertiary level. It is true that these institutions provide a better foundation for young people to be able to better formulate their ideas but we have always believed that we need to start a lot sooner.
It was for this reason that the Small Business Association introduced in 2009 the “Enterprise in Action” Youth Programme within primary and secondary schools. This programme is designed to empower young persons with the “knowledge, leadership skills and initiatives” to facilitate entrepreneurial behaviours.
For the last four years we have been conducting a programme across the secondary and primary school system that, along with teachers from the school, see young students engaging in the process of ideation and project implementation on a range of innovative and profit making activities. We launched and currently maintain this programme primarily to expose young students to entrepreneurship and understanding the vagaries of business ownership and development.
An entrepreneur’s key competence is the individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation and risk taking, as well as the ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives.
We firmly believe and have been lobbying for the introduction of specific academic components into the primary school curriculum, which focuses on developing such a mindset. We need to teach our students about business development and more importantly, about the character traits that are necessary to develop entrepreneurs.
Our educational system at times seems somewhat passive. It is time we teach our students about risks and seizing opportunities from a business perspective.
The SBA’s Enterprise in Action programme is determined to change the attitudes and beliefs of our young people. We want to shape minds from early to ensure that we secure within our young people the same spirit and zeal for entrepreneurship that we expect in adult life.
Young people must start to think and act on the initiatives, creativity, independence and ideas that are invaluable in the modern world.
Either we get young people to work on their ideas or simply let them continue to work on other people’s ideas.