Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo has been encouraging aspiring and practicing entrepreneurs not to be afraid of taking risks.
Addressing the second Bank on Me Distinguished Entrepreneurs Awards and Masterclass at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Friday, she also called on residents to be more supportive of entrepreneurs, especially those who encounter disappointments along their journey.
“Too often we believe that we have to play it safe while our society, our family, our support system tell us ‘what are you doing that for? Stay there, stay in the job’, or things like that. So we as a society need to be able to be more supportive and not to have our children fear failure because failure is a part of our development,” Byer-Suckoo said.
During the awards and master class function two outstanding entrepreneurs –owner of Champers Restaurant Chiryl Newman and Trinidad-based owner of S.M. Jaleel and Company Dr Aleem Mohammed – were recognized for their contribution to entrepreneurship.
This season’s Bank on Me focused on five main areas, cultural industries; agri-business; innovation, research, science, technology; engineering and mathematics.
Lauding organizers of the event, Byer-Suckoo said Bank on Me had impacted many lives and caused a number of entrepreneurs and potential ones to “change their lifestyles, how they view themselves and how they view the world”.
However, she called on organizers to continue to re-invent the programme in order to continue to help change attitudes towards entrepreneurship and remain relevant.
“Otherwise it becomes ‘samey-samey’ and the contestants and the viewers will say ‘ah, we have seen that before, we have heard that before’. So you need to … continue to develop yourself,” she advised.
She added that entrepreneurship was vital, as government and the private sector could not absorb everyone into the workforce.
“Entrepreneurship does add value in providing employment for people and creating employment because many entrepreneurs then go on to hire [other people]. Of course it also has value for our economy and for the sustainable development of our country,” she said.
During Friday’s event, the eight finalists of the show had the rare opportunity to interact with the recipients of the master class, as they quizzed them on their trials and triumphs over the years. They were also given valuable advice on running a successful business.
Mohammed shared the journey of S.M. Jaleel & Company Ltd, which is known for its flagship product – Chubby soft drink, saying it was not easy getting the business to its current capacity, where its products are being sold in over 60 countries.
Mohammed said one of the main causes for a lack of business growth in many Caribbean companies was due to them having “the same board of directors that always like to recycle ideas” while shutting out new ones from new employees who were often more familiar with “new trends”.
Sharing her story with the finalists of the Bank on Me, Newman, a former travel agent, said when she decided to open the now popular Christ Church restaurant she was encouraged by colleagues and family members to go ahead once it was something she was passionate about.
“It was the natural thing to do. I always believed I was going to work for myself,” said Newman. (MM)