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Last month, the Economist magazine featured a special report on entrepreneurship. The mere fact that the Economist, a weekly news magazine known for bringing insight to the most pressing and most salient international current events , chose to focus on entrepreneurship is a testament to the important changes happening in the business environment right now.
Yet, it is no surprise that entrepreneurship is once again attracting attention. With each day that another company announces lay-offs, many competent and recently unemployed individuals retreat to coffee shops to plug in their laptops and start tinkering away at that business they have been pondering for months (or perhaps years). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of unemployed people in the United States grew by 5.3 million over the past twelve months, with nearly 700,000 new people declaring themselves unemployed in just the last month. In Belize , where the unemployment rate hovers around 12%, nearly one quarter of employable youth (24%) do not have formal jobs. In Trinidad and Tobago , the economists have sounded the alarms that unemployment in some sectors could climb to as high as 40-60%.
Many new businesses will spring out of venture capital hubs such as Silicon Valley and Boston, or from the metropolitan areas hit hardest by the banking crises and the automobile manufacturing collapse, such as New York City and Detroit. In fact, many of the global businesses we consider today to be great successes started out during recessionary times, such as Burger King, CNN, GE, Lexis Nexis, Microsoft, MTV networks, and Sports Illustrated.
While many of the past and current globally successful businesses were started in the US, Europe and East Asia, increasingly, entrepreneurial ventures will emerge from other regions of the world, such as Latin America, Africa and South Asia. Accessible and affordable technology, such as mobile phones and the internet, has democratized economic opportunities to an unprecedented level. It is for this reason that we here at Pioneers of Prosperity feel that there is no better time than now to be an entrepreneur, whether you are in Port au Prince or Port of Spain.
According to the Economist , “The globalization of entrepreneurship is raising the competitive stakes for everyone, particularly in the rich world. Entrepreneurs can now come from almost anywhere…And many of them can reach global markets from the day they open their doors, thanks to the falling costs of communications.” The competition for ideas, for customers and for profits has intensified, and those with the most innovative models and lowest cost structures will be those nimble enough to capture the market. The current global economy is opening up opportunities for innovative businesses already in existence in emerging markets to have a greater foothold in the global economy.
While the Pioneers of Prosperity Caribbean program is focused on seven countries (The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago), the program’s impact will be far wider and deeper than these seven countries. The entrepreneurs that win the Pioneers of Prosperity awards will not only change the way people think about business in the Caribbean, they will change the way business is done across the world.
- Abby Noble
Pioneers of Prosperity