Attracting Local and Foreign Investments (Part VIII)
Towards encouraging our people to invest in their homeland, the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) will champion efforts to foster an entrepreneurship culture among our people. Over the last seven articles we have spoken about the importance of investment for creating a more prosperous country and for fostering the economic dignity of our people. But while attracting foreign investment is an important development strategy for our country given our limited national income and limited "know-how", investment by our people in their own homeland must be at the centre of our effort at fostering economic dignity.
But investment by our people must not be limited to the few persons among us who may have a historical advantage of family wealth. Rather, our country must create reasonable opportunity for those among us with good business ideas to invest in them. There is also the need to expand the range of areas that our people invest in beyond engagement in commerce. Our people must also embrace investing in areas with greater potential for making our country more prosperous and these encompass areas for trade with the rest of the world and for which we would need to develop or enhance our international competitive advantage.
But we noted in the last article that unless there begins to be a strong entrepreneurial mindset among our people, our country would not be as successful as it could at getting our people to invest. Before proceeding, let us talk a little about what is the mindset of an entrepreneur.
Firstly, good entrepreneurs are adept at identifying business opportunities. These may stem from: a demand within the nation or internationally for goods and services that is not adequately served or could be served; potential for improving some aspect of the quality or value for money of goods and services currently on the local or international market; emerging trends including the use of technology that would result in the displacement of the current goods or services or some element therefor or the mode of delivery; or there may be a problem for which a solution is required.
Secondly, good entrepreneurs set out to determining what would be appropriate ways to exploit an opportunity or solve a problem identified – in effect they are creative thinkers and innovators! They gather the appropriate information about what it would take to exploit the opportunity. Thirdly, entrepreneurs set out to implement the strategy or solution that they determined to be feasible.
This third element involves moving from plans (informed by the first two stages) to reality. Good entrepreneurs garner the support, skills and resources that they need to set up and run an enterprise that converts plans into real earnings.
But can an entrepreneurial mindset be entrenched within our people? How do we overcome our country's current dominant "passive service" culture - being more oriented to offer our services to entrepreneurs than to be entrepreneurial ourselves? There are several strategies in that regard that the DFP will champion.
First, the DFP will champion a number of access to financing strategies as discussed in the last two articles – including strengthening the development banking approach, establishing a venture capital eco-system, and improving export-financing. These efforts must help engender a greater entrepreneurial consciousness among our people and this element must be deliberately built into the promotion strategies of the relevant supporting institutions.
Moreover, a conscientious public relation effort to encourage the entrepreneurial mindset and culture could encompass various other strategies including actively identifying and supporting entrepreneurs with promising ideas in a bid to demonstrate the power of entrepreneurship to transform lives. This could be initially done through a pilot programme in which effective public relations strategies would be used to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset in our people. Leading up to that point, forums could be organized to assist with the generation of ideas. These efforts should be accompanied by efforts to encourage persons to pull savings together to invest.
While the above strategies would contribute much to encouraging the existing working population to invest, the DFP will also champion efforts to inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset in our children and young people through the school curriculum. This is in recognition that to change mindsets in a lasting way requires pursuing a fundamental shift in the nation's psyche and efforts targeted at children and the youth are germane to this. Hence, it would be necessary to review our school curriculum at all levels to determine how it should be strengthened and adjusted to better train our school-age population to be creative thinkers and to be entrepreneurial. Instruction techniques used in schools must be appropriately adjusted to incorporate practical and other elements that would encourage children to be creative and innovative.
But the DFP continues to believe that our country can indeed be transformed into one that is prosperous and our people must be at the centre of these efforts. So, what are the investment opportunities to do so? We will begin to discuss that in next week's article.
Dominica Freedom Party.