Red-Hot Businesses for Caribbean Entrepreneurs
A massive wind of change has been gusting across the globe and it is affecting not only how we do business today, but for the foreseeable future. It’s a revolution that should grab the attention of every Caribbean entrepreneur who wants to stay relevant, enjoy prosperity and build sustainable businesses for the future.
I’m talking about the phenomenon the World Economic Forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “a digital transformation characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.” In simple terms, it refers to rapid technological advancements, unprecedented scientific, medical, engineering breakthroughs and unparalleled access to data and knowledge which is continuously and swiftly disrupting industry across the world.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
If all of this sounds complex and daunting, it is. For some of us, especially those who dread rapid change, it may be as terrifying as a category 5 hurricane roaring through the region. Yet at the same time, this Fourth Industrial Revolution presents a multiplicity of titanic opportunities for enterprise which the Caribbean must capitalize on, as countries in Asia, North America and Europe are working successfully to do.
There’s a fundamental point to be made here, which is that Caribbean business communities are largely made up of necessity-based, non-innovative, low-skilled, low barriers to entry businesses which will struggle to survive in this new era. In the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report it was noted that 30 percent of businesses in the region are started out of financial need, and that 50 percent or more of the new businesses started are trade-based, in the wholesale or retail sectors. A drastic shift in how we view entrepreneurship and the industries that we venture into is needed if we are to compete at the international level and produce high-growth potential, sustainable and high-profit businesses.
It’s no surprise then, that the businesses that are red hot for Caribbean entrepreneurs must be those that will exploit this advanced digital age. Technology businesses are therefore among the hottest. This includes medical technology, biotechnology, big data, open source, business intelligence and analysis, cyber security, cloud-based technology, wearable and consumer technology, and software and applications companies. Given our reality of inadequate capacity and developments in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, much of this would sound like Greek to the average Caribbean entrepreneur, but this is a challenge we must overcome to compete in the modern world.
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Also atop the list of red hot businesses are those focused on developing human capital. Human talent is still the most important factor for growth in nearly every industry, and for economic growth generally. Businesses that can effectively develop and maximize human potential are more relevant than ever before. Some examples would be online education and training, productivity and heathy lifestyle development and so on.
Caribbean entrepreneurs must also take cues from developments in the global venture capital markets. Outside of the technology-based businesses listed above, some of leading enterprises attracting massive capital from savvy investors are alternative and green energy companies, network communication, financial services, digital content creation and e-commerce among others.
The Promise of Technology
By now you are probably wondering where those industries being encouraged by our Caribbean governments fit into all of this. Industries such as business process outsourcing, agro-processing, creative works, manufacturing, adventure, culture, health and eco-tourism, for example.
The fact is we do have a competitive advantage in many of these areas and some have immense potential for growth. Additionally, there is the opportunity to earn foreign exchange which is critical for our balance of trade, particularly to help reduce the trade deficit we now have with the USA and other countries. Therefore most of the industries being championed by government are relevant, however the Fourth Industrial Revolution still looms large. We must therefore embrace and apply innovation and technology in every sphere, to add even further value, so we are not left on the fringes of disruptive advancements now and in the future.