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SEEN UP NORTH: Awards for Bajan entrepreneurs

Tony Best

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Successful Barbadian entrepreneurs in Brooklyn were recently recognized for their contributions to the city.
At a luncheon hosted by the Young Barbadian Professional Society (YBPS), a seven-year-old organization in New York committed to the further economic, social and cultural development of their homeland, an upwardly mobile group of Bajan executives, attorneys, bankers, educators and others got the chance to reflect on what was next in the area of entrepreneurship.
Just as important, too, was the need to pay tribute to those who had excelled at taking risks in one of the world’s most competitive cities.
For as Barbados’ Ambassador in Washington, John Beale told the audience in a short address, entrepreneurship started with being a true believer in taking risks.
Just as important, added Beale, a former chief executive of a Bridgetown bank who sat on the board of directors of Barbados Shipping & Trading, entrepreneurs must “know when to take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself”.
That’s why he wanted to see entrepreneurship taught in Barbados’ schools.
Adrian Gill, founder and chief executive officer of Adhoc Industries, a Boston-based company that provides brand strategy consulting, film production and product design services, said: “The theme of entrepreneurship is really a very personal journey and I use journey because people see you on paper but the path to get there is generally filled with a lot of trials and tribulations.”
Gill, a former vice-president of the global footwear division at Puma, a US$1.8 billion business, added: “You have to be prepared to be alone in decision-making. Not everybody will get your vision. The second factor is being open; strategy is important but you have to be open. Take advantage of opportunity, no matter how small, disconnected or insignificant it may seem.”
In a conversation later, Gill, a Bajan with extensive corporate and entrepreneurial experience, was quick to warn that entrepreneurship wasn’t for the faint of heart. Instead, it was for those who were willing to take the plunge and understand that there could be failure.
Renée Cutting, YBPS’ co-founder and co-chair, said that the awards presented to several business people fitted in well with a core mission of the society – economic development.
“We have networking, which is a major part of our programme, that brings Barbadians together.”
Another of the society’s key components remained its education programme, she said.
“These are the things the society decided years ago that we could contribute and have a significant impact. The entrepreneurs’ award event was just an extension of our mission and of our Great Genes campaign.”
In essence, it was to recognize the individuals who had been supportive of the organization from its inception.
The society saluted Steven Legall, owner and manager of Steven Legall Home For Funerals, one of the largest funeral parlours in Brooklyn; Christopher Hunte, who has been creating his own line of custom couture clothing in New York for more than a quarter-century; Sandra Went, a jeweller in Manhattan who, along with her late husband John David, a gemologist, established LF Jeweller/Lapidary Inc.; and Ricardo Bentham, an accountant, who is president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Business Services, a full services accounting.
Other awardees were Walwyn Greenidge, who established what is now known as National Courier & Shipping Services that provides air and ocean services to the Caribbean and Central America; and Anderson Pilgrim, a curator of art exhibitions and an artist representative in New York who established Diaspora Now Inc. and has produced dozens of art shows and other cultural events in the city.
In addition, Alwin Bannister, vice-president of B&S Marketing, a wholly-owned Barbadian company in New York, and Carlos Sandiford, president of a wholly Barbadian-owned company in New York City that imports large quantities of Barbadian and other Caribbean-made products every year into the north-eastern region of the United States, were recognized at the luncheon.
“We have received considerable support from these firms and individuals and B&S Marketing was with us since the society’s creation,” said Cutting.
Barbados’ Consul General in New York, Lennox Price, praised the Young Barbadian Professional Society for its commitment to the advancement of Barbados and its nationals.
Leslie Gittens, a business development officer of Invest Barbados, participated in the programme, and so too did Maria Watson, who moved the vote of thanks.