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Entrepreneur programme to be unveiled tonight

Business planner: Gary Schoeniger, co-creator of the innovative international Ice House Entrepreneurship Programme (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A new programme designed to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs will be unveiled tonight.

Gary Schoeniger, US-based co-founder of the Ice House programme, has travelled to Bermuda to launch a series of classes.

Mr Schoeniger said that as — traditional work patterns continued to change — the need for go-it-alone businesspeople would increase.

He added: “Ice House is largely done by example, but also through practice. The entrepreneurial mindset is not complicated — it’s just different from the way we have been taught to think.

“The Ice House programme lays out these eight core concepts, but it’s also designed to be practical.

“You can’t develop a mindset sitting in a classroom — it’s exposure to a new way of thinking, but needs to be reinforced through practice.”

The programme is the result of a joint effort by the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI) to bring the Ice House programme to the Island.

BEDC economic development officers Ray Lambert and William Spriggs both completed the facilitator training programme at the ELI in Kansas City, Missouri.

Mr Lambert said: “The time was right for the Ice House programme in Bermuda.

“There are a lot of people how requiring changes in their lives, whether it’s looking to start a career or further develop whatever entrepreneurial endeavour they already have.”

The seven-week programme is based on the life and work of Pulitzer prize nominee Clifton Taulbert and the business influence of his uncle Cleve.

Mr Schoeniger — himself an entrepreneur for most of his life — said that discussions on entrepreneurs tended to concentrate on business superstars like Steve Jobs of Apple and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, while traditional teaching prepares people to become educated and become employees of others.

But he added: “It’s really about a cultural intervention — in every community there are entrepreneurs, but previously we haven’t really acknowledged them.

“We are looking at everyday entrepreneurship — what they are doing, how they are doing it and how we can adopt some of these concepts and apply them in our own lives.

“I often say that today entrepreneurs are drivers in our economy. The problem is, we don’t understand entrepreneurship very well.

“Much of our effort to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset are not very effective.

“The outcome I want from this trip is we want stakeholder buy in and recognition that the entrepreneurial mindset is the way forward.

“But it’s also to get people to recognise that this is something within reach.

“It starts with the core assumption that people can empower themselves by solving problems for other people.

“That’s the genesis of entrepreneurial thinking — if people can identify and solve problems for other people they can empower themselves.”

“From there, all other entrepreneurial activity, attitudes, behaviours and skills come — what needs are not being fulfilled and what problems need to be solved.

Mr Schoeniger said: “So many of us are educated to fill a required role in an organisation — this programme just reflects different attitudes, behaviours and skills.

“There are people with MBAs working in coffee shops — these are highly trained, intelligent people but who aren’t trained for the modern world.

“Entrepreneurship and business management are two very different things. An entrepreneur searches for a problem solution fit — managers help to capture the value of what an entrepreneur discovers.

“I have interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and I can say these are ordinary people who have slight different beliefs and habits.

“But over a long period of time, these land themselves in very different places.”

Mr Schoeniger will present “The Entrepreneurial Mindset” tonight (Wednesday) at the Cathedral Hall, starting at 6pm.

The entrance fee for BEDC members is $20 and $25 for members of the public.

The course runs on Tuesdays, from October 6 to November 17 from 6pm to 8.15pm in the BEDC training room on the first floor of Sofia House in Church Street, Hamilton.

The $200 fee includes books, materials and access to an online learning portal. To register, e-mail info@bedc.bm, visit www.bedc.bm or call 292-5570.