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Mr Boyea

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by CI Martin

The growth of capitalism depends on the continuous emergence of new businesses. A few will succeed, but many will fail. The persons setting up these businesses are called entrepreneurs. The term is French in origin and literally means to undertake. An entrepreneur is one who takes the risk of setting up a business. If he succeeds, he will make lots of money; if he fails, he can lose his shirt.{{more}} SIt is the nature of the business; profits are the reward for taking risk. If you want a small but secure income, then become a civil servant or work for someone else. However, if we all did that, then our country would not grow very rapidly.

SVG has not been a nation with many big-time entrepreneurs. It is not difficult to appreciate why. We are a tiny country, not merely in area, but in population. Singapore is less than 100 square miles bigger than SVG, but it has 5,000,000 people. With that sort of population, there is a big domestic market and scope for setting up many businesses. Moreover, with that number of persons, all cannot become public servants. Many have to create work for themselves and others as the private sector.

With SVG having only 100,000 people, we have a small labour force, many of whom find jobs in the public service as civil servants, police, teachers and health workers. Above and beyond this, a significant percentage of our population has been able to migrate over the past century. It is only with migration

outlets declining and the education system turning out persons wanting better jobs than there are on offer, has the need to grow the private sector become obvious and we have started to try to produce entrepreneurs.

Research indicates that several factors influence the emergence of entrepreneurs. They include: coming from a business family; having businessmen as friends or mentors; being educated and having technical training; and work experience, often in other people’s businesses. Travel and a certain level of maturity also help.

Mr Ken Boyea is the walking embodiment of all these factors. His parents were successful business people engaged in farming, shopkeeping and trucking. His father’s great friend was Philip Veira, an even more successful businessman; hardly surprising that when Veira set up his flour mill he appointed Boyea as manager. He is educated, having not only attended the Grammar School, but qualified as an engineer. He then managed our electricity company, thus ensuring he had the necessary technical skill. Few Vincentians were better placed to become entrepreneurs. With all these advantages, it would be surprising if Boyea had none of the disadvantages that go with entrepreneurship.

It has long been observed that entrepreneurs are sometimes brash and overconfident. It is called entrepreneur’s hubris and more can be learnt about it by googling “entrepreneur’s hubris – Richard Branson.” Entrepreneurs tend to believe they know better than everybody else and they can take on anything. This often results in their making mistakes which can lead to their downfall. When this happens, it is, however, not in the economy’s interest to have them pilloried. For often it is these same entrepreneurs who having made mistakes, then go on to undertake successful projects. So well recognized is this, that bankruptcy law in many countries is very lenient to entrepreneurs who have failed, but not been dishonest. What the capitalist system expects from entrepreneurs who have made mistakes is that they would wheel and come again. We have so few big entrepreneurs in SVG to want it to be otherwise. Let us hope that Mr Boyea’s age allows him to come again. He does not have to find excuses for his misstep. All that needs be said is “It’s the nature of the business.”

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