The BEF Pillars
The BEF Pillars
The BEF’s work programme is structured around five Pillars which align with the factors necessary for a healthy ecosystem – Education and Talent Development; Business Facilitation; Government Policy; Business Mentorship; and Access to Finance.
Access to Finance
Access to capital is one of the key components of a vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem and in this regard the BEF has pulled together a group of interested angel investors as a means of facilitating financing for new businesses that may not qualify for funding through traditional lending agencies. Preliminary work was undertaken on the establishment of an Angel Investor Network and making the network operational was a major focus of 2014.
In 2011 and 2012 the BEF hosted an Entrepreneurship Summit, at which leading experts and business leaders made presentations and held workshops in finance, recession strategies, growth strategies and export strategies to name a few.
With regard to achieving national policies that are conducive to business, the BEF sees that it has a responsibility to speak to the areas where a change in policy can have the greatest impact in allowing entrepreneurial activity to thrive. Therefore the BEF has actively engaged with policy makers and other related agencies to open dialogue around the regulatory environment and how this can be enhanced to facilitate and attract business. To this end, the BEF put forth a Charter for entrepreneurship to the Government which set out specific initiatives which could be undertaken in the areas of finance, education, legislative and regulatory changes.
Education and Talent Development
To help build a culture of entrepreneurship among high school students the BEF has implemented two programmes that specifically focus on introducing students to the idea of entrepreneurship, that is, the $20 Challenge Competition and the Class room to Board room project. Both projects have been very successful and have been expanded with more students participating each year (in 2013 500 students participated in the $20 Challenge) and more volunteers involved in the roll out of the projects.
Business Mentorship & Networking
One of the most critical elements to the development of a sustainable entrepreneurial culture in Barbados, is the facilitation of purpose-driven business mentorship and networking. By fostering the creation of safe spaces within which to build relationships and engender support amongst entrepreneurs, the BEF seeks to create quality opportunities for this growing community to both provide and receive support in the form of networking, mentorship and access to expert advice and services. In this regard, a number of initiatives are coordinated under this pillar and in association with other pillars and/or strategic partners to offer various levels of engagement to suit the diverse needs of the entrepreneurial community in Barbados. These initiatives include mentorship mingles, workshops, breakout sessions, knowledge/resource pools and Project X.
The BEF has lobbied professionals to provide quality responsive right-priced services to entrepreneurs, and through this initiative two local law firms have created business facilitation units within their practise. Another initiative, in support of the belief that internet literacy is the new paradigm and that IT capability and capacity is the single most important transformational force necessary to compete on the global market, was an early project to promote wireless internet connectivity. The WiFi project entailed the provision of WiFi “hotspots” that provide free public internet connectivity. At the end of 2013 the BEF had achieved 75% coverage to free WiFi around Barbados, including over 100 free WiFi access points.