A senior Government minister is lamenting that too many black businesses in this country are dying with the first generation. And, Minister of Industry Donville Inniss is calling for a change in our culture and the society by teaching Barbadians from a young age about entrepreneurship, taking risks, and “stickability”.
He said that as a people we needed to take this area “a lot more seriously”, and expressed regret that entrepreneurs often failed to pass the baton properly on to others.
Speaking this morning at the launch of the Caribbean Association of Networking Entrepreneurs (CANE) at the Dining Club, Newton, Christ Church, Inniss said it was imperative that Barbadian children were taught that life was not easy.
“They, too, have to rough it a bit,” he opined.
In the presence of attendees, who included budding entrepreneurs, key stakeholders and CANE members, Inniss pointed out that “if we grew up with some challenges and a little bit rough, and then we teach our children that they do not have to have challenges or a rough spot in life, then we are doing our children a great disservice”.
He continued: “Too often we get involved in business; we do well; we build a nice house; drive a nice motor car; and our children come up and feel they don’t have to do anything to help the business grow. And I really think that is fundamentally wrong. We really and truly have to start passing that baton on from a very young age . . . ,” Inniss stressed.
The minister told members of CANE that networking was “key” as most business decisions were not made in the boardroom but through interaction; for example, in the large corporate world, on the golf course; and “the hour and a half spent once a week attending this meeting could really make the world of difference”.
“We, very often, join organizations . . . . A lot of it is about camaraderie, having drinks and dinner, and liming etcetera. This one offers something very constructive –– this offers sharing your business ideas, exchanging information and networking, and this is most important because in good times and bad times you need a friend. You need someone to understand what you are going through,” the minister added.
Noting that businesspersons should treat all referrals with a degree of seriousness, Inniss told his audience that a referral was only useful if the individual took that advice and “ran with it”, as it was “up to persons to follow through and take it seriously”.
He took some local businesses to task, however, charging that too many of them “were settling for mediocrity and offering sloppy service”. Stressing that we have to do better, he said this was not going to make businesses successful or “move this country forward”.
“In the midst of all the challenges that confront us at a macro-level, what is important is what functions at the micro-level . . . . If we can get every enterprise in Barbados to pay more attention to service, the very optimal service, it is going to make a fundamental difference not just on how fast we turn around this economy, but whether we put it on a sustainable growth path or not . . . .
“And, we in Barbados, we are 68 per cent service economy; and I am satisfied that we are still learning now the difference between service and servitude. Too often we go to businesses in this country, and they make you feel as though they are doing you a favour, oblivious to the fact that there is competition out there,” he declared.