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Entrepreneurship needs help

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

Entrepreneurship needs help

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP MIGHT NOT be as appealing to Barbadians as some people think.

This is especially so for the mature members of the population whose apparent disinterest in starting their own business goes against the international norm.

Research by two Barbadian academics found that a “relatively modest” 23 per cent of Barbadians, who participated in an entrepreneurship survey, plan to start a business within the next few years. Most of these were young people.

Dr Paul Pounder and Dr Dwayne Devonish said this “is a reason for concern for policymakers and entrepreneurs alike”. After conducting research they produced the report Understanding Entrepreneurial Attitudes, Intentions And Activity In Barbados.

While the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (said to be the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurship) “suggests that persons step into entrepreneurship around 40-45”, the research found that “the Barbadian population placed less emphasis on ownership of a business and more emphasis on seeking employment in the later stages of life (45-55 and 55-64 age group).

Pounder is Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Department of Business and Management Studies Faculty at St George’s University, Grenada, while Devonish is senior lecturer in Management Science, Department of Management Studies, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

Their “exploratory” research included questionnaires “carried out with 2 355 Barbadian residents (aged between 18 and 64) across the various urban and rural areas of the island”. Overall, the findings “established a positive relationship between entrepreneurial attitudes and actual entrepreneurial activity measured by total early-stage activity (TEA)”.

Pounder and Devonish said: “In terms of gender, statistical analyses revealed that a significantly higher proportion of males (23 per cent) are involved in TEA compared to females (19 per cent). In terms of age range, TEA index was highest among those in the ‘below 18’ age group (32 per cent), followed by those in 25-34 age group (23 per cent).

“These results suggest that significant entrepreneurial activity exists among the younger age groups compared to those in the older groups such as the ‘45-55’ and ‘55-64’ age groups. With respect to educational attainment, TEA was positively related to educational attainment, with those in the highest educational category (post-secondary level) exhibiting the highest TEA index (52 per cent).”

They reasoned that “Barbadians choosing to set up new ventures at an early age as opposed to later years as seen in other countries can be linked to a shrinking employable market on the island, which has forced more young people into new venture creation.”

Both saw a need for “more research to be done in this area to create a better understanding of the phenomenon as this may be a culturally-bound difference that needs more consideration”.

It was also necessary to have “an in-depth recommended approach to support entrepreneurship education, which reduces the fear of failure and uptake of business start ups across all demography regardless of gender”.

“The duration of entrepreneurship education is a gap in the area of entrepreneurship research, an understanding of this area can be effectively utilised to assist with resource allocation. Finally, as the duration of entrepreneurship training programmes can vary widely, one may need to investigate the different impacts for attitudes, intentions and activities towards entrepreneurship,” they added.

Pounder and Devonish also recommended further research to determine “the types of entrepreneurship training required at the various stages of the entrepreneur’s life cycle”.

“This could be done as a motion to enhance self-efficacy, attitude, entrepreneurial intentions, and activity.” (SC)