I am honoured to have been invited to share this landmark event, which undoubtedly has the potential to stimulate and increase competitiveness in our economy, by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial initiative and innovation.
As Minister McLeod has indicated, the National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS) may be regarded as an integral component of this Government’s economic diversification strategy.
My Government is fully cognizant of the fact that for economies to thrive and prosper there must be high productivity, healthy competition and diversified skills, aptitudes and competencies.
With the roll out of IBIS, we are strengthening our stated framework of sustainable development and ensuring “Prosperity for All.”
I, therefore wish to extend my congratulations to Minister McLeod, Ms Natasha Ramkissoon and Mr. Michael Gordon and their respective teams for bringing IBIS on stream in record time. ?I would also like to express my thanks to His Excellency Malay Mishra for the support given to this venture. As many of you are aware the India based National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) has provided and continues to offer invaluable technical assistance to the IBIS project.
If I may, I wish to state that I am extremely pleased to note this collaborative effort among Commonwealth partners, which serve to strengthen the relationships between and among our countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, IBIS was conceived out of the need to carve new paths for our country’s economic transformation, as we transition from an energy-based economy, to one more focused on innovation and the acquisition of knowledge, talents and expertise.
IBIS is a viable mechanism for new and advanced opportunities for wealth creation and poverty alleviation. From an entrepreneurial perspective, the introduction of IBIS comes at a time when our country is in need of an increased entrepreneurship drive.
Ladies and gentlemen, how would you characterize an entrepreneur? Someone with far-fetched ideas? Someone who is always dreaming? Someone you courteously appease by giving a sympathetic ear?
I believe that entrepreneurs are visionaries. They seize opportunities. They observe. They listen. They don’t take anything for granted and they are not afraid to act.
The late Steven Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computers who arguably changed the information technology landscape more than any other, was an entrepreneur.
Sir Richard Branson, who shared his experiences and observations with us, during our Caribbean Investment Forum held in June is an entrepreneur.
Each of you, the candidates of IBIS, present today is a potential entrepreneur, with the innate ability to become as successful as you envision yourself to be.
What my Government is doing through IBIS, is equipping you with the necessary resources to realize your dreams and in doing so, creating greater avenues for personal growth while building more prosperous communities across the Nation.
IBIS is important because it tackles enterprise development at two levels – at the community level, where community based business incubators will focus on the creation of new businesses and the strengthening of existing businesses, so that they can create opportunities for themselves and those in the community.
At the National level, IBIS will create commercial business incubators to pursue and embrace those business ideas that have the potential to earn high profitability.
Indeed, one of the special features of the commercial business incubators is the use of the public-private partnership model. You may recall that the Honourable Minister of Finance discussed this model at length during the Budget presentation earlier this week.
IBIS brings this model to life, as it intends to engage the private sector in establishing these incubators.
I am advised that less than 20% of our tertiary graduates who pursued Entrepreneurship degrees actually go into business.
This is a situation, which we hope to change with IBIS, as this project is well suited for persons with ideas but without the resources to bring their ideas to fruition.
Knowledge must be applied, innovation must be encouraged and welcomed, if as individuals and as a Nation we are to grow and prosper.
We are a talented and creative people. We only have to consider the evolution of the steelpan or witness our successes in the areas of music, sport, and fashion to realize that we have the potential for developing sustainable business from these and other initiatives.
Even as we facilitate a more accommodating business environment for established companies and now with the introduction of IBIS, for Small and Medium Enterprises; my Government continues to appreciate global dynamics.
We have established an Economic Development Board to keep focused on investment and the diversification of the economy and a National Council for Competitiveness and Innovation, which is charged with improving our competitiveness ranking in the world.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this Government firmly believes that if we are to improve the overall quality of life for all our citizens, entrepreneurship must be allowed to flourish.
IBIS will be that key which opens doors for us to establish meaningful linkages to the benefit of our local entrepreneurs and our trading partners as well.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the work does not end here.
The Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro-Enterprise Development has worked with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to establish a competitive business strategy that is supported by the European Union.
IBIS is one of the indentified programmes within that strategic plan and the Government anticipates that similar plans will be forthcoming as a result of the alliances built by those Ministries.
Entrepreneurship, ladies and gentlemen, and the thrust for innovation and competitiveness, are what will make the difference to our success and failure.
However my Government understands that there is a need to ensure that all of the challenges faced by small businesses are identified and the unnecessary bureaucracies and other issues removed.
I assure you that the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development will work diligently with the other stakeholders to identify and eliminate these challenges as far as possible.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Government will continue do its part to create an enabling environment to support entrepreneurship and to create wealth, generate employment and support sustainable enterprises.
But it is you, the candidates of IBIS and others like you who will determine whether such support will be successful.
I urge you to commit yourself to your businesses. Commit the time, commit the resources and most importantly, commit your energies to your business.
And whenever you think that it is beyond you, just remember some of the success stories we have read and heard about over the years. You may be the next success story.
I thank you.