21 Nov 2009

A vision of 2020... but now

Yesterday I had a very interesting meeting. I attended a workshop held by the Birmingham city Chamber of Commerce. This is geared towards facilitating people who wish to start up their own businesses.

Frankly, I was amazed. To me the services provided were what Pa-trick would called Vision 2020. Except that we already have it here in England in 2009.

To begin with, in reception, I was asked to sign in, a process that took less than 30 seconds. Secondly, since I was 15 minutes early I was directed to a reception room where I was invited to get myself a drink from a tea/coffee dispenser.

The meeting started very promptly and the facilitator was very professional. The facilitator then went through a list of assistance that the Chamber of Commerce (something called Business Ventures) was willing to provide to assist people starting new businesses.

Starting with an eight week course, during which time we would be prepared to take on some of the challenges awaiting us. For example, we would be able to identify our short-term goals, our long term aims, identify our strengths and weaknesses, set realistic goals etc.

We will be taught how to develop our business plans, identify and plan our cash flow, identify our markets and potential customers, learn to sell ourselves and our products or services, and avoid common pitfalls of new businesses. Additional skills to be taught would be things like accounts, money management, some aspects of business law etc.

Following the initial eight days full training, during which time we would also register our businesses if we choose to at this time, we would get 16 weeks of additional training (one on one) during which time we will be funded with some living expenses in order to ease the strain of moving into self-employment.

Then follows a year of support. And all of this is entirely free, if not to the taxpayers, then certainly to those of us who are willing to work and make successes for ourselves.

The reason I am writing about this experience, is because I am sure there is no similarly government funded programme in Trinidad and Tobago. The Small Business Development Company probably had some initial assistance but I am fairly certain that it would certainly not be in this sort of depth. I stand to be corrected if this is not true.

Vision 2020 should not be about erecting tall buildings as monuments to flagging manhoods. It should be about building services, and facilities of course, to assist the people to empower themselves. But it should not be with ego in mind but rather to provide the people with the tools that would enrich their lives and make them independent.

People do not remember despotic leaders except in passing. The ones who are remembered and honoured are the ones who were humble enough to realise that the people were more important than their own egos. Say the name Gandhi and Mandela and what comes to mind? Now say the name Manning... you see what I mean?