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Diplomat: Teach entrepreneurship in Bajan schools

Diplomat: Teach entrepreneurship in Bajan schools JOHN BEALE, Barbados’ Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States. (FP)

By Tony Best | Thu, October 25, 2012 - 12:01 AM

If Barbados embraced an idea articulated by its top diplomat in Washington, Bajan students would be taught “entrepreneurship” while in the nation’s classrooms so they can start their own businesses.

At the same time, more secondary school students would learn to speak Spanish, a skill which would put them in a sound position to communicate fluently with their Latin American neighbours and reap long-term economic benefits as adults.

John Beale, Barbados’ Ambassador to the United States and the Organization of American States, outlined that case for curriculum reform while delivering an address to scores of Bajans at an entrepreneurial awards luncheon sponsored by the Young Barbadian Professional Society, YBPS, in New York. He told the guests at a Brooklyn golf club that while some people had a definite entrepreneurial “flair,” early lessons in starting businesses and how to take an idea and an opportunity from its initial stage to launch a successful enterprise would be important.

“We must start teaching entrepreneurship in schools,” was the way he summed it up.

The lessons were needed, said the Ambassador, to encourage young people to take risks, which was the essence of entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurship starts with being a true believer, being driven, with the persistence in taking risks” and the sooner young Barbadians were encouraged to take risks, the better off the country would be, he added.

Just as important, Beale said, they must put any early setbacks behind them. In a world where outsourcing had become a fact of life in rich and developing countries, there was a place for enterprising young people who want to take risk by getting into business, Beale said.

“Another thing is to know when to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself,” the Ambassador said.

The example Beale cited to support his position was that of Kiffin Simpson, founder and chief executive officer of Simpson Motors and SOL (Simpson Oil Company), “who really runs basically a multinational organization from little Barbados”.

Beale, a successful banking executive in Bridgetown before assuming duties in Washington in 2009, traced the origins of the diversified Simpson Corporation from its early beginnings as a petrol station to its present position as one of the Caribbean’s leading enterprises.

“I know that [Sir] Kyffin Simpson years ago started a business running a simple little gas station and it is now a growing concern,” said the Ambassador.

“The mighty [Barbados Shipping & Trading] with its car dealerships and what not, they were given an opportunity to (represent) Suzuki” but they turned it down because they didn’t have time for that.

“But [Sir] Simpson took it, took it not only in Barbados but in the entire Caribbean, Puerto Rico, through parts of the [United] States and Brazil.”

The rest, as they say, is history, and it all started by seizing an opportunity.

“He had what it takes and he took (advantage) of an opportunity that presented itself, which a major corporation in the island ignored,” he said.

"While some people have a particular flair for being an entrepreneur, make no mistake about it – you can learn to be an entrepreneur” and that was why Barbados should begin teaching it in schools.

 But the lessons shouldn’t be limited to entrepreneurship.

 Beale, a former director of BS&T, said that as Barbados sought to expand its trading relationships with the Spanish-speaking nations of South and Central America, more people should have a command of their language.

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