As I look back on my life, I realized that at each stage I had some unique encounters that when put together with how I was able to come over helped shaped me into the person I am today. Today I want to share with you three of the most important lessons I learned in the last few years.
Today on “How They Did It” I speak to David Martin, the Jamaican born Animation Evangelist currently leading the charge where digital animation in the Caribbean is concerned.
Over the past years, Grenada has been plagued with many economic problems which unfortunately don’t have a “one size fits all solution”. In an effort to eradicate Grenada’s financial concerns, one of the most popular approaches often taken is that of “passing the buck”. It appears as though persons are content with playing the proverbial “blame game” regarding the country’s economic woes in an effort to stray from the issues at hand. However, such a method doesn’t point us in the right direction towards obtaining a suitable remedy. Personally, I do not believe the persons responsible for our current economic difficulties matter; instead, I do believe our focus should be to identify solutions to these growing problems.
A major problem Grenada currently faces is an extraordinarily high rate of unemployment. Annually, thousands of young people who graduate from the T.A. Marryshow Community College, local and foreign universities as well as other secondary and tertiary learning institutions are in search of jobs. Unfortunately, with every new batch of graduates, the private and public sectors cannot provide the much needed jobs, so the unemployment rate continues to increase. In the past, many poorly planned and run programs and initiatives have been taken to help alleviate the unemployment crisis; however, I believe that if we are to find a better, more effective solution, a change of mindset and a revised curriculum for Grenadian schools are required.
To alter the course or change the mindset and focus of the average Grenadian to steer us away from the turbulent waves of the rough unemployment waters, I firmly support the notion that a culture of entrepreneurship has be cultivated since it is a great avenue for employment generation and wealth creation. Consequently, in an effort to have the most impact, a pro-entrepreneurship philosophy needs to be introduced into our school system. In all honesty, one of the most disappointing statements I constantly hear parents and teachers say to children is, “Go to school and get good grades so that you can get a good job.” Therefore, from a very young age, we are inadvertently cultured to follow the status quo. We are expected to get educated to hopefully have a successful job search, which Robert Kiyosaki rightly calls, “the employee mindset”.
In my opinion, entrepreneurship should be the key driver of our economy, and I firmly believe that fostering an entrepreneurial atmosphere can maximize individual and collective economic and social successes, locally, regionally, and internationally. We need to present entrepreneurship as a viable option to our young people, especially at the secondary school level. Students need to know that after school it shouldn’t be compulsory to look for jobs. Instead, they can be the job creators for themselves and possibly others. Thus, if entrepreneurship is encouraged, young people will be empowered to create their own opportunities which will aid in the fight against youth unemployment.
I have always thought that the help required to foster an entrepreneurial culture in Grenada is insufficient until a friend told me about Caribbean Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (CARCIP) and “StartUp Grenada”. CARCIP aims to increase access to regional broadband networks and advance the development of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) enabled services industry in the Caribbean region. Also, “StartUp Grenada” through CARIP supports activities which will leverage the regional broadband infrastructure not just to foster employment but to grow the IT of ITES industry. After checking startupgrenada.com website myself, I am convinced that such an initiative is the positive push we need to help propel Grenadian entrepreneurship.
You may ask however, exactly how does CARCIP intend to accomplish its aim, or what does its mission have to do with a push for entrepreneurship? CARCIP will provide financial assistance via grant funding. The programme’s intention is to provide funding to at least 60 small startups or existing businesses in Grenada. Under CARCIP, approximately 2.2 million USD have been budgeted for that purpose. A business can get up to $150,000ECD to fund its project, but the venture must have an ICT component since one of the CARCIP’s objectives is to advance the development of an ICT-enabled service industry.
Unfortunately, because of “StartUp Grenada’s” eligibility requirements, which can be found on its website, startupgrenada.com, everyone won’t qualify for CARCIP’s assistance. Some of the basic prerequisites applicants must fulfill are that their companies must be registered in Grenada and their businesses must be legally and financially autonomous operating under commercial law not dependent on the Government of Grenada. Also, don’t think you’ll just get funded without any commitment on your part. Instead, you’ll need to come up with 20% of the amount you’re looking for, but it does not necessarily have to be in “cash”. It can be “in kind”. So what does “in kind” mean or, where will I get $20,000 upfront if I am seeking $100,000? Different ways to tackle such a situation exists. A practical method for instance could simply be foregoing a few months’ worth of salary. Some entrepreneurs have sacrificed years’ worth of income to get their businesses off the ground, so such a feat isn’t impossible.
In addition, be focused on the task at hand, which should be starting an economically viable business venture. Therefore, when funds are disbursed you shouldn’t have the urge to use the moneys unwisely in any case. However, to aid the ill-disciplined, funds don’t go directly to the recipients who are being assisted; instead, it is paid to the service provider/suppliers assisting with the business’ developmental activity. Additionally, a lot of other useful information can be found on the website, so take a look at it because I sincerely believe “StartUp Grenada” is a step in the right direction for Grenadian entrepreneurship.
You may not have a business, and you may convince yourself that you do not have the potential to be a business owner. However, because of the relative amount of ease to begin a business venture nowadays, with a change in attitude, you too can become an entrepreneur. To start off, one of the first things that you need to do is to have a business idea. Start-up ideas can come from a number of different places such as a skill you possess that you can profit from, you can find a solution to a pesky problem, determine a more efficient way of performing certain a task, or maybe you recognize something that is being improperly done that you can do better.
Once you have your business idea, you need to identify your target customers or the ones who will be paying for your product or service. You also have to decide how you would present the idea to others. Would it be via drawings or working protocols? The ability to effectively sell your vision to other individuals is quite critical. Additionally, you need to identify a team of people who would share your dream and desire to make your business happen. Other areas you will need to know or have a working knowledge about are the resources that would be needed, the purchasing cycle for the product or service, and the sales forecast which should be assessed to determine whether the venture will be profitable. It is also very important to consider whether you have the necessary skills to take this business forward. These are just some of the basic pointers that persons can use to start developing a business.
Grenada and other countries struggling with economic hardship should move towards a culture of entrepreneurship. Such a culture also needs to be supported by government and other institutions such as CARCIP by providing technical support, access to funding, and other forms of assistance to young people. If Grenada strategically cultivates a more entrepreneurially focused atmosphere, the country can make significant strides in many facets especially relating to the constantly growing unemployment rate.
On Thursday September 3rd, I had the pleasure of hosting the first blab discussion of the Caribbean Entrepreneurs Mastermind Group. We spoke about why Caribbean nationals should get involved in entrepreneurship and we had some solid advice worth millions from people like Monique Welch, Daniel Williams, Lovell Felix, Cemal Copeland, Dwayne Clement, Donald Thomas and Devon Wells. I want to share the experience with you as we had a really great time, talking about Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean. We will be hosting this show every Thursday at 10pm Eastern time.
Comment and share your thoughts below and you are welcomed to join us on the next Show on September 10th 2015.