It has been long established that the growth and development of small businesses are paramount to the building of an economy. It is for this reason that any evidence that points to an increase in start-up businesses is seen as a positive step.
Entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation are strategies which are widely promoted in an effort to drive start-up businesses and propel the development of small business enterprises.
It is lofty to promote entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation; but, as it seems, these qualities have now become mere buzzwords or terms. For these words to have meaning and a value attached to them, various support systems are required to be in place to complement and aid those who are keen to explore new horizons.
The world right now is poised to create new industries, as young minds move to establish new industries which are driven by the new technologies that have engulfed us. The education systems around the world are seemingly geared to produce the knowledgeable skills and talented individuals that are needed to reorient the business world; thus heighten the competitive environment, and reduce the dominance or monopoly that any one industrialized society holds over others.
Small island developing states have always been slow and even constrained in moving to develop the niche areas of business activity. It is for them to realize that with the opening of the world markets, the opportunities to gain access to world markets are there for the taking.
This can and will only happen if there is a serious effort to break the perceived barriers where the policy seems to be directed at creating a base for large investors to dominate the local market and use their capital to the development of business ideas under licence.
This approach defeats the purpose of promoting entrepreneurship. It is inconceivable that those with good business ideas, and who lack the resources and facilitation to capitalize on the potential that exits, are likely to be lured by those businesses who offer upfront cash in the repurchasing of the rights to their innovation.
It has long been recognized that financing of start-up businesses is a distinct problem which small island developing states face. They are however not alone, for according to the Small Business Administration, where approximately 500,000 new businesses are started every year in the United States, they too face the challenge of accessing start-up capital. Coming out of this revelation is the need to find a workable solution. From a national point of view, a premium ought to be placed on encouraging entrepreneurship activities that move beyond the traditional forms of business. It is about time that there is a movement away from developing retail and wholesale business as an entrepreneurial activity. These are certainly misfits when we speak to entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.
If the idea is to identify with niche areas which can be developed, it may be necessary for some national guidance to be given. Take for example the finding of new technologies to drive the renewable energy programme and that of the greening of the economy. This does not negate attention being placed on other diverse areas of economic development, inclusive of new initiatives that can be absorb within a service economy.
Governments are known to establish agencies for providing grant funding and technical assistance to entrepreneurs. It is usually left to the entrepreneur to undertake market research. This strategy ought to be revised and instead the research is to be undertaken by the government agencies which have the expertise or access to such, so that an objective assessment could be made.
As in the case of Barbados, this could be entrusted into the hands of agencies such as the Barbados Youth Business Trust.
(Dennis De Peiza is labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.
Visit the website www.regionalmanagement services.com
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