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Food Can Fuel Caribbean Economic Growth - Basil Springer

  • Written by Basil Springer
  • Published in Opinion
Basil Springer - Change Agent Basil Springer - Change Agent
"You also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God." - Ephesians 2:22 - Today's column is an amalgam of some of last week's events and my experiences, cricket, food, equity and death, which have induced a feeling of humility and harmony within me.

The four significant pieces of cricket news as we seek a resolution to the current saga are: (1) The press release that indicates "the WICB (West Indies Cricket Board) is pleased to report that the parties are making progress with regard to the premature end to the tour of India...the WICB remains confident that an amicable and mutually agreeable resolution can be had."

(2) Caribbean politicians got involved and asked the BCCI (The Board Of Control For Cricket In India) to delay its threat to initiate legal proceedings by 40 days to allow the Chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-committee on cricket, Grenada's Dr, Keith Mitchell, to set up a high level working group that would hammer out details of a grand settlement.

(3) A task force has been established to investigate the abandoned tour of India and asked to report in 30 days. Will the structure of West Indies cricket, which in my opinion is at the crux of the matter, be addressed?

(4) A full strength West Indies team for the South African tour, beginning in the middle of December 2014, has been named.

About six weeks ago, in this column, I mentioned that I was part of a global market innovation group, consisting of four teams of individuals from the food design, open innovation, communications and shepherding disciplines. 

The aim of the group is to expand the economies of the Caribbean through an aggressive food export thrust which will result in the sustainable expansion of food and beverage exports faster than any strategy currently in place, in a cost effective manner, by building on the synergies of interaction among the members of the teams.

The plan is to launch this initiative in the Caribbean in January 2015, one successful business after another. Many companies are already exporting, and we shall help them to expand even further. Companies not yet exporting but with potential to do so, will experience exponential growth in profitability as we introduce them to new export trading opportunities.

The initiative will increase foreign exchange earnings and there will be backward linkages to the expansion of primary agricultural production which will facilitate import substitution by mobilising the Caribbean's underutilised human, natural, financial, cultural and intellectual property capital.

Between now and the end of the year we shall be embarking on a communications campaign to sensitise existing food entrepreneurs, international development agencies and national policy makers (facilitating the enabling environment) to meet with members of the global innovation teams at a launch of the initiative in January.

Last Tuesday, I was honoured to have been invited by the Central Bank of Barbados to participate in a panel discussion on "Sources of Equity Finance for New Businesses" at a meeting jointly hosted by the Central Bank and the Financial Services Commission for domestic financial institutions. I was advised that the basis for the invitation was a suggestion that some elucidation of the CBET Shepherding Model™ would fit well into the programme.

I have been sharing the concept of the CBET Shepherding Model™, some people think ad nauseum, in this column over the last six years and, in particular, making the point that shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure and is the collateral that secures the investment. Now, we have a formal Shepherding tool, the Management of Business Systems Matrix (ManOBiz Matrix™) which facilitates the development of start-up businesses.

If I was pleasantly surprised by the invitation that recognised the model's potential value and contribution to economic growth, one successful enterprise after another, I was ecstatic about the outcome of the panel discussion which was moderated by the Governor of the Central Bank himself . This gave me a feeling that at last we may have another champion in Barbados to follow the support given by the late Prime Minster David Thompson for this approach in October 2009 when he launched the "Barbados Entrepreneurs' Venture Capital Fund" which was stillborn.

Ian Collymore from the Central Bank of Barbados, another panellist, outlined the Central Bank's updated and comprehensive loan guarantee schemes. The third panellist was Lynette Holder, CEO of the Small Business Association of Barbados, who eloquently expressed the need for a solution to the problem of sources of equity finance for new businesses. I left with a feeling of optimism that at last we are on the brink of a solution to funding start-up businesses.

I end on a sad note, that of the passing of Trinidadian Michael Mansoor, a Caribbean entrepreneurial icon. As the Trinidad Business Guardian described him: "A man of Integrity, Honour, Intellect and Dignity who contributed immensely to the nation and the region." I was privileged seven months ago to have a lengthy chat with him at his Trinidad home at his invitation. Our discourse was wide ranging and included personal, political, business, investment, Barbadian, Trinidadian and Sabga Awards topics. Even though he acknowledged the fact that he was very ill and was putting his house in order, little did I think at the time, because of his clarity of mind, that this special exchange would never be repeated. May he rest in peace!

As we begin the week, may we all find harmony and humility from within and express it in our unique ways to become agents for peace in the world.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. - CBET - His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com)