The BEF Charter

The Purpose of this Charter

This Charter sets out the Vision of the BEF for Barbados to become the “Entrepreneurs Island”. It explains why it is so important to achieve this Vision and outlines the key steps required to achieve it. It is aimed at all in our community, including Government and our friends overseas, who can all help achieve the vision.

Our Aim

To make Barbados the Entrepreneur’s Island by 2020

Why this is Essential for our Nation’s Future?

Barbados’ economy developed strongly through the 1970’s to the 2000’s based firstly on tourism and then offshore business companies. The global recession of 2008 unearthed the vulnerabilities of being dependent on two main economic sectors controlled by exogenous variables, and has presented the opportunity to chart a new path forward.

Barbados must leverage its strengths, a highly-educated workforce, strong governance and excellent infrastructure to reshape our economy, while remedying our weaknesses, namely bureaucracy in government, access to finance, and limited competitiveness.  We must also address the reticence of our culture to fully recognise and embrace the critical role of wealth creators in making our social policies affordable.

Our economy must become more diversified to sustain highly skilled, paid Barbadian jobs which utilize our high educational standards, one that attracts overseas entrepreneurs who bring skills and resources which foster indigenous, dynamic small businesses with an export orientation based on high intellectual capital. Technology and business skills have been shown in other small islands to be the most sustainable way to achieve this.

What is an Entrepreneur?

There are many definitions of an entrepreneur, for the purpose of this Charter we have identified two types of entrepreneurs “High Potential” and “High Value”.

High Potential Entrepreneurs

Individuals who display drive and potential, and who are believed likely to benefit from mentoring and business skills training.

High Value Entrepreneurs

Individuals who demonstrate the drive and take the risk to grow a significant venture and create other meaningful value.

An entrepreneur acts pro-actively to combine the available pools of finance and talent by innovating to successfully exploit opportunities that create the value shared between customers, employees, shareholders and society. They are the well-spring of much that we hold dear.

Our Objectives

The three (3) main areas identified for action are Human Resources Development, Finance and Investment, and Business Facilitation from which the seventeen (17) Key Objectives we need to achieve to become the “Entrepreneurs Island by 2020” are drawn.

Each of these Objectives is accompanied by a few Key Actions required to achieve the objective, which are listed in the separate Action Plan.

Human Resource Development

Historically our schools have not encouraged business as something to be aspired to nor included practical business skills in their curricula. To achieve our aim all students need to see entrepreneurship as a high status career option and leave school with relevant practical skills.

Fostering an entrepreneurial culture needs to be continued at tertiary (including) adult education level. A college for entrepreneurs will develop practical entrepreneurial skills for all experience and educational levels.

A key reason for entrepreneurial failure is lack of experience including ‘business acumen’. A Mentoring Scheme will support new entrepreneurs as they “learn the hard way” developing their ideas.

Lack of access to vital information has been identified as a major barrier to success for our entrepreneurs, one which can easily be addressed through an Entrepreneurs’ Portal.

The way forward to activating an entrepreneurial eco-system:

2015 – Develop support mechanisms for entrepreneurs – national entrepreneurial mentoring scheme

2016 – Learning from others – establish a scheme to facilitate learning from other small island states and the Diaspora

Create a single national Entrepreneurs’ Portal containing research, business opportunities, best practice, practical guidelines, funding sources, mentoring access and route-maps to funding through the Government regulatory system

Included would be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all government regulated small business transactions

2017 – Primary School curriculum to include positive entrepreneurship models

Secondary school curriculum to include more high technology content and ‘Practical Entrepreneurship’ delivered by entrepreneurs; and

2018 – Establish a broad based vocationally focused College for Entrepreneurs

Finance and Investment

Entrepreneurs require capital to start, grow and expand their businesses, however find it hard to obtain this in Barbados, despite the high level of acquired wealth and provision of a number of SME targeted funds, the cautious financial culture inhibits investment in entrepreneurial activity.   Substantial mind-set shift is required to ensure that funds are accessible by entrepreneurial individuals and companies.

Corporate Governance requirements for small businesses should be altered to encourage non-executive directors to lend their experience, minus the onerous stipulations in place for larger entities.  Additionally the implementation of international SME financial standards should be embraced.

In many countries higher education has been an engine of high technology entrepreneurial growth.  In Barbados this could be stimulated through private/public partnerships, with the private sector providing funds and the government facilities, to enable research students to develop their ideas into businesses.

The way forward to activating an entrepreneurial eco-system:

2014 – Create an environment for equity financing for entrepreneurs

2015 – Foster a modern, responsive and supportive banking and investment system that is MSME friendly

2016 – Accelerate the role of higher education research and development as a fulcrum for business development

Create an investment body for private sector investment in research technology spin offs and create a technology business park to enable small scale business development from educational research

2017 – Modernise financial and corporate legislation to better enable entrepreneurialism, by introducing non-disclosure and bankruptcy legislation, while innovating corporate structures for small businesses

Encourage the use of IFRS for SMEs

2018 – Create and publicise substantial tax incentives for venture capitalists

2019 – Make a success of the Junior Stock Exchange

Business Facilitation/Government

Government plays a large role in Barbados yet many of its policies and practices do not sufficiently encourage entrepreneurship. The burden of ‘red tape’ is considerable. Regulations need not be reduced but need to be far easier to access, navigate and complete. Additionally national service delivery standards should be established.

Creating a mixed economy for the provision of public goods and services will not only improve quality and reduce cost, but will afford many opportunities for local entrepreneurs, a major way to stimulate entrepreneurialism.

Many of the new entrepreneurial efforts need to be export focused.  The revision of the Small Business Development Act with a robust export scheme can be a catalyst.

Government plays a pivotal role in leading the culture change necessary for the transition to a more entrepreneurial society; the leadership of politicians in the media to support entrepreneurialism is an important.  Other national leaders and civil society must also lend their voice and resources to make the transition a reality.

Finally if we are to attract overseas entrepreneurs the process must be simple and easy to navigate for relocation and ability work here.

The way forward to activating an entrepreneurial eco-system:

2014 – Embark on a sustained Public Relations campaign utilising traditional and new media to promote the development of an entrepreneurial culture – focussed on primary to tertiary level students and community based programmes

2015 – Substantially reduce the burden (time and effort required) of regulation ‘red tape’ for small or new companies

2016 – Establish a strong incentive scheme for export oriented small businesses, through revised Small Business Development Act

Implement changes to immigration and tax policy to encourage overseas entrepreneurs to relocate to Barbados

2018 – Create a mixed and competitive economy for the provision of most public services.

Our Call to Our Community

This Charter aims to achieve something fundamental for Barbados which will improve the lives of everyone involved with Barbados. It is not aimed at Government alone; many objectives require action from other groups and individuals in the community. It is a Call to Action for all Barbadians at home and overseas, to all residents and friends of Barbados.

Specifically, our corporate sector has a central role to play in the achievement of many of the objectives and we ask them to identify where they can make a substantial contribution and indeed take a leading role.

Our trade unions have a role to play.  We ask trade union leaders to identify their contributions to achieving these objectives and to participate throughout.

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation will work with all organisations to achieve this Vision. There will be many opportunities to get involved – please contribute personally, there is no shortage of opportunity to make a difference.