“I wanna be a billionaire so **** bad, buy all of the things I never had, I wanna be on the cover of forbes magazine, smiling next to Oprah and the Queen”
As someone who didn’t grow up wealthy, I’ve had a very interesting relationship with money. I know that it doesn’t take much to survive but it’s also very hard to survive without enough. As a millennial we have all the information at our finger tips. We’ve seen the Forbes lists, we know of our favorite Billionaires, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey or Mark Zuckerberg but is this a realistic aspiration for a Caribbean citizens or even Caribbean companies?
In the Caribbean we have a very closed and quiet relationship with money. Salaries aren’t often spoken off, we rarely discuss the revenues of Companies within the Caribbean and even the most successful within our region, for example Kyffin Simpson, are known but not by any means famous or selling their biography. In summary, money is a mystery in the Caribbean. Exactly how much money does Williams Industries make?
I don’t want to know this information to be “malicious” as Bajans say but merely to be informed. What avenues and industries are profitable in the Caribbean? How quickly do we adapt to change? Are we following US markets? How far behind are we on the curve? These are all questions that aren’t easily answered but before we get there is making billions within the region something that we as Caribbean people should aspire to?
What is a billion?
The more the merrier is one opinion, there can never be too much money. In the Caribbean currently our economies are declining with economic ranking downgrades occurring all over the region. Obviously, economic boosts from business create jobs and stimulate economies, but can we create billion dollar companies in our region? We are limited in man power, space and capital.
Two thirds of the billionaires on this year’s list built their own fortunes, 13 per cent inherited them and 21 per cent have been adding on to fortunes they received. **
Money is changing, we’re leaving the world of old money in traditional markets to “new money.” Millions are made off of software and ideas, this is our future. Let’s think of a billion as one thousand millions. There may be hope, with the increase in globalization and access to markets all over the world. I believe that it is possible for the Caribbean to create billion dollar companies.
Look to the future. In the Caribbean this may be the best option since because of our size it may be hard but not impossible to make a small dent in already established industries. We have to become creative with how we think and produce ideas. We may not be major players now but we very well can be tomorrow.
As a Caribbean region we cannot create billion dollar companies that exist with consumers only in the region. The reason for this is that in order to truly make billions there needs to be market access in the billions of people worldwide. In this day and age crossing boundaries is very possible but it requires us to chart our own paths.
Own & Diversify
One major issue with successful Caribbean business is foreign ownership. Although these companies provide jobs the revenue is being sent to other countries. Taxing is not enough and any aims to make billions must be accompanied with ownership by us for us. Diversification of company portfolios and investing in the future is one way in which many companies grow to the billion dollar mark.
We were not born wealthy in the region but we can create our own wealth. I choose to dream of a day where we as a region are economically stable and a world leader in our own rights.
Until Next Time