Dr Terrence Farrell, chairman of the Economic Development Advisory Board, has highlighted sport as one of the industries that could propel the country's economic diversification and assist in transitioning the economy away from its dependence on oil, gas and petrochemicals.
Farrell has also stressed the urgency of undertaking such initiatives, noting that demand for hydrocarbons is whittling down worldwide because of the global trend towards renewable energy.
Dr Farrell made the comments during his keynote address at the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee's 2017 Future of Sport Conference, held yesterday at the Hotel Normandie. He said he was encouraged by the entrepreneurial theme of the conference, adding that sport possesses an entire eco-system, with opportunities for employment and earnings in different fields that would assist in the much-needed diversification.
The former deputy governor of the Central Bank said he would locate the initiative within the wider diversification strategy and road map his Board is advocating to the Trinidad and Tobago government.
“The definition of diversification, which has been adopted by the Board, is the increase in activities which are capable of generating foreign exchange earnings or saving foreign exchange,” Farrell said,
Noting waning demand for hydrocarbons and the global trend to renewable energy sources, he said a local sport industry had an opportunity to develop the entrepreneurial environment to offer global services similar to the model of Singapore, whose Singapore Airlines provides worldwide connections with the home country as a travel hub.
Farrell added the focus had to centre on a three-step process, including understanding our sporting capabilities and resources and realistic assessment; scanning the globe for needs of the sports marketplace through scientific analysis and developing and building relationships and networks with well-connected persons in the T&T and West Indian diaspora and serendipity.
“We have to get on with it. We can't crawl. We can't walk. We have to begin to run because we are running out of time,” he said. TTOC president Brian Lewis said the modern sports organisations must play a key role in diversification.
“The next step is becoming entrepreneurial and placing an entrepreneurial eco system,” Lewis explained.
“It is about science, technology, engineering and math because in the modern world, the digital economy is about ideas and scaling ideas.”
Lewis also added it is about women becoming more involved, plugging the TTOC's #femaleisfuture intitiative, adding that a recent study showed only 20 per cent of people in leadership positions in business are women.
“We cannot build a sustainable sport industry without entrepreneurial women. Women must lead the way because that is the way of the world,” Lewis concluded.
The conference also dealt with panel discussions on entrepreurship and the entrepreneurial mindset; using creativity to design and construct the business idea; protecting the idea and other legal issues for the entrepreneur and developing, starting, delivering and funding the venture.