Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Michelle Chong | Collaboration and leadership: the heart of the Honey Bun Foundation

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2019 | 12:28 AM

[Excerpts from the recent launch of the Honey Bun Foundation]

 

The Honey Bun Foundation will be supported by two legs: collaboration and leadership.

Brand Jamaica is a massive tree covering us all in Jamaica whose low-hanging fruit we have still not reaped.

The spirit of collaboration is the first leg of the foundation. I was challenged when preparing this speech to find another way to say collaboration because what I’m talking about is not the common use of the word used every day in conversation. So I will call it ‘Collaboration to the n th , so that when we speak of it, we know that it’s collaboration at a different level!

The second leg of the foundation will be about leadership. We mistake it for the CEO or manager. We need a new way to describe this form of leadership, and so I will call it ‘Leadership to the n th where the ‘n’ in both words means ‘to the end and towards nation building in Jamaica’.

It is on these two legs that we will transform Jamaica.

Leadership to the nth will be about people with the passion for Jamaica building into those who they lead. In a sense, leadership to the nth is like mentorship because each of us becomes a mentor for the two or three or 30 or 300 people we lead in our business and people we meet every day!

John Maxwell says everything rises and falls with leadership; Alex Ihama says that leadership rises and falls with purpose. I say that leadership to the nth is leadership with purpose that will bring about Jamaica rising.

The Honey Bun Foundation was founded out of a passion to bring what I saw were ‘great’ people with a love for Jamaica and a genuine love for what they are doing, but something was missing. How can we come together to achieve a greater strategy than what we individually strive for? The whole has always been greater than its parts. Yes, we have MoUs and partnerships, but are we achieving what we need to achieve for our SMEs?

This will be the space that the foundation will focus on: WHY we are not progressing exponentially, WHAT we must do differently, and HOW we can be more innovative than the world. This is what I call the white-space opportunities that abound! As we approach 2020, what will be different?

BUSINESS MODELS

Two legs and four business models – there are four distinct business models that the foundation will build out over the next three years.

1. Develop a national training platform for Jamaicans.

2. Build a simple app to do business analysis.

3. Build a model to build out and scale advisory boards for Jamaica’s SMEs.

4. Build a model to develop and grow back office support.

Following these four initiatives, the work of the foundation will not be done. We plan to focus on different sectors such as agriculture, technology, and micro businesses. We will do what we plan to do exceedingly well by keeping focused on building out each area through collaboration to the nth.

The foundation has the distinct advantage of not having any other focused agenda but building models – no lengthy bureaucracy, just dedicated and passionate people and partners; no government dependence, just a deep focus!

CREATIVE INDUSTRY

One might ask why the creatives first and singled out in our mission?

This, in my opinion, is Jamaica’s greatest competitive advantage. THIS is what we call BRAND JAMAICA! This is YOUR children are telling you what they want to do with their lives. This is the only talent we hone that nobody else can do or take from us.

The more authentic Jamaican products are out there, then the more the fake ones will become easy to recognise. We will be the Silicon Valley for creatives. We will work with the great work the Jamaica Business Development Corporation is doing and the British Council programme for mapping the industry to be able to calculate its worth, set our targets, set policy, and achieve massive impact!

Recently, Forbes declared Jay-Z a new billionaire (is this the new way?), quoting him to say, “To convince artistes that you can’t be an artiste and make money…was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off.”

It may be hard for some of us to give up some of the things we believe, the things we do, the way we do them, and the things we have become attached to.

Success is not something that could take three months, taking three years. Success is not one per cent. In today’s world, where things change as fast as light, success has a new meaning!

Many of us are not using our gifts and channeling our passion at this point because we juggle every day – distracted from our true cause, trying to replicate, duplicate, point fingers at the problem, talk about the solutions, and be all things to all men.

The Honey Bun Foundation will serve to build the models through discussions with all of us working for a common cause. We will continue to develop powerful national business models to create exponential growth for SMEs and the creative industries.

- Michelle Chong is the founder of the Honey Bun Foundation. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com