Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Brandon: Entrepreneurship still a viable option

AS the world continues to feel the effects of the subprime mortgage collapse and subsequent financial meltdown which started exactly five years ago, there is the view that it is still an opportune time for persons to start their own business.

So says Managing Director Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Youth Entrepreneurship, Marcia Brandon, who told the Grenada Advocate as she assessed the climate for entrepreneurs after the post-Lehman Brothers collapse.

According to Brandon: “Of course starting a business in this time is not for the faint of heart or simply for someone who is looking to make some money overnight. Starting a business in this recession is for someone with the entrepreneurial bug who is creative, smart, alert, determined, and has done his/her homework to the best of their abilities and is able to take one of the many problems that appears during a recession and present an innovation to solve that problem.”

She suggested that the rapid increase in layoffs, the availability of newly unemployed workers, and a dearth of employment alternatives may have combined to create higher numbers of entrepreneurs in the Caribbean today then than in pre-recession years.

“Research shows that 16 out of the 30 corporations that make up the current Dow Jones Industrial Average started during a recession. Walt Disney Corporation began during the recession in 1923-24.Hewlett-Packard Corporation began in 1938 during the Great Depression. Microsoft Corporation began during the 1975 recession.”

“The USA Today also notes that in the recession of the early 90s, 25 per cent of downsized executives over 40 started their own companies. Caribbean people should look at the recession as a natural way to clean house and restart the economy anew, even though it is a very challenging way,” she explained.

With regards to banks and other lending institutions creating an environment that facilitates entrepreneurship, she remarked that banks in the Caribbean have always been risk averse and this will not change overnight.

“This has always been our modus operandi in the Caribbean. To be fair, we are a people with employee mindsets and not typically employer minded and employees within the banks in the Caribbean are no different, neither in the credit unions. But all that is changing. We really are living in exciting times and now more than ever people in the region want to start their own businesses.”

“More and more banks and credit unions are becoming more and more aware of the benefits and opportunities which are tied to helping entrepreneurial people to start businesses. The environment in the Caribbean has become a lot more entrepreneurial over the past 15 years.”

Brandon highlighted CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank which, she says, is very interested in sustainable development of the region and recognises that this is a long-term strategy.

“So in partnership with the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development (CEYESD) they have embarked on helping those persons in the region who have the potential to become entrepreneurs and employers. In doing this, CIBC FCIB is honing whole new breed of future customers.”

To this end, she encouraged all lending institutions, especially those with a regional focus, to partner with the CEYESD to cultivate this type of entrepreneurial mindset in the region. (JH)

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