IT is an undisputed fact that Jamaica has produced a phenomenal number of superb athletic talent. It is also an undisputed fact that by any and all comparative measures, Jamaica is top of the world in sprinting.
No one can deny that our world champion athletes have worked tremendously hard in a disciplined way over many years.
It is also a fact that Jamaica’s success in athletics is the result of a well-organised system under which world-class coaches identify talent at a very early stage, nurture and develop that talent. Many of these coaches are former competitors in the Olympics and other international events.
Undoubtedly, the achievements of our athletes motivate others to emulate and respect them, especially those in the top tier who make a living from their highly developed talent. Indeed, over the past few years athletics in Jamaica has grown into more than just a sport, it has become an industry that earns foreign exchange, provides employment, pays taxes and exports its services.
If we can be this successful in athletics, then we should be able to replicate that success in other fields of endeavour. Think what we could accomplish by applying the methodology employed by athletics administrators to other industries.
We contend that Jamaica has entrepreneurs equivalent in talent to our top athletes, particularly Mr Usian Bolt and Mrs Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. What we have not had, and desperately need, is a public policy and a system which identify entrepreneurs, nurture them with training, and support their development with resources until they achieve international competitiveness.
Jamaica has always produced world-class products, and quite a number of our companies and entrepreneurs have become world beaters. However, we need more of those if we are to generate sustained high rates of economic growth.
This country can benefit greatly from a system that identifies budding entrepreneurs and provides for the skills and experience of successful companies being shared with them. That system could also groom these aspiring businesses with training, and assist them with affordable venture capital financing and infrastructure.
Creating a market in which they can hone their competitiveness to international standards will also help, as we give entrepreneurs the respect that they deserve and create a tradition that reveres the entrepreneur as much as the star athlete.
The talent in business, as we said, exists. It is now for us to nurture that talent more than we have been doing.