Smith: throw away rulebook, slash red tape
It is time to “throw away the rulebook”, slash red tape and empower entrepreneurs to lead Bermuda's economic recovery, says a business agency leader.
Erica Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, said it was doubtful that the world would return to pre-crisis norms and that innovative start-ups could shape the new normal.
“We, as a country, need to become very comfortable with throwing away the rulebook in order to be as innovative, creative, and disruptive as possible,” Ms Smith said.
“Entrepreneurs will solve the world's issues. We see it every day in action and this applies to Bermuda. But we must foster an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to grow.
“We must be open to throw every crazy idea on the wall and be prepared to test them, because the impact of Covid-19 has been so destructive on the economy, that it is doubtful that we'll be able to return to a pre-Covid-19 world.”
The government-backed BEDC works with entrepreneurs to help them get new small businesses off the ground.
However, in the past few weeks, it has been working “flat out” to head a relief effort, processing and dispensing loans, grants and loan guarantees to small and medium-sized businesses stricken by the crisis.
Ms Smith said moves to create a more start-up friendly environment were critical to the recovery.
“We must remove as much bureaucracy and red tape as possible in order to create the space for entrepreneurship to grow,” she said.
“We must fully embrace technology and IT. We must create a virtual market and include within that, involvement of artificial intelligence and augmented reality to create whole new retail and visitor experiences.
“We must embrace the gig economy and the new way people will work, including working more from home.”
Entrepreneurs needed to be able to open bank accounts in a more streamlined way and have more options for payment processing, she added.
“This means facilitating business start-ups and making the process for starting and registering a business seamless.
“We must create the space for entrepreneurs to test and validate ideas, including delaying government benefits and obligations for one year until businesses are solid to go.
“This includes access to more forms of financing and capital in a seamless way ranging from start-up funds to growth funds,” she added.
Bermuda's abundant business knowhow and experience also created an export opportunity and help solve other countries' problems, she suggested.
“Bermuda can create its own version of a ‘crown corporation', being hired to deliver projects elsewhere, especially when we think about the many examples of where Bermuda has been a leader — let's leverage that intellectual property,” Ms Smith said.
“We must be bold in pursuing and facilitating new industries and new opportunities and if we can get the island back to a healthy state with regards to Covid-19 sooner than our competitors, then we need to promote that to encourage both entrepreneurial and visitor interest.”