If Barbados and other Caribbean countries are serious about developing the entrepreneurial sector, they must upgrade all elements of the “eco-system” that supports it.
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Small Business Development Donville Inniss made that point as he addressed the opening of The Entrepreneurial Network (TEN) Caribbean Startup Summit at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning.
He called for the public sector to be more efficient, making specific reference to the processing of business documents.
“When a businessman wants a document processed within two days – that may land him a lucrative contract –, if that document sits on someone’s desk in a file for the next two months, we are holding back that same business,” he said, further calling for consistency.
“If we say an application will be processed in 48 hours that must apply to everybody who files it. No one should have to call the minister to find out what is happening to their application.”
Turning his attention to the education system, Inniss said while it has a solid foundation, it encourages young people to remain in a comfort zone, steering them in the direction of traditional careers and not necessarily what is needed for the future.
He further contended that families can also stifle children’s creativity, with parents telling their charges to “get an education and get a job”.
Staying with the family theme, Inniss reminded the entrepreneurs “to build a legacy that your grandchildren can carry on and take to another level”.
He also called on them to seek out mentors, including those who might have failed in previous ventures, saying that Barbadians must get away from the culture of “kicking people when they are down and labeling them as failures”.
“We should extend a hand to help them recover, and recognize that we can learn from their mistakes.”
In his wide-ranging address, the minister also touched on the banking system, lamenting the fact that it was slow in signing on to new methods of financing business ventures, such as crowd financing.
According to the founder of TEN Habitat, Selwyn Cambridge, the two-day conference features entrepreneurs and policymakers from all around the world who will be offering guidance to help the startup community nurture their ideas, learn from others, innovate together and celebrate their successes.