SIDF 2.0: An Investment by Citizens Program

In a previous post entitled, Exorcising the demons from my religion – My spiritual odyssey from endarkenment to enlightenment, I attempted to show how the lessons learnt during my spiritual development could be applied to guide the social, economic and political development of our Federation. In the last paragraph, I opined:

…Just like we have a Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF 1.0) to assist in the economic growth and development of our country via foreign investments, I feel we need a balancing counterforce to deal with the social, spiritual and political growth and development of our people via domestic investments, where our people at home and in the diaspora can readily contribute of their time and resources. This can be a Spiritual Investment and Development Foundation (SIDF 2.0) which can contribute to raising awareness of the needs and concerns of the community among civil society via local projects, be they social, environmental, spiritual and even legal, and which would be charged with the mandate to educate, discuss and share information and other resources that can help bring back that sense of community and connectedness that we so now need more than ever…

In response to last week’s post, Taking St. Kitts and Nevis to the next level, one of my colleagues challenged me with these questions, “What is the next level? What must we do to get there?” I have also been criticized by some of being too abstract and general, and in this post, I will put forward a bold suggestion, that is more concrete and I hope will stimulate discussions in our families, and communities, and allow us to come up with creative solutions that would allow us, as a united people, to put our political differences aside as we rebuild our families and communities, together.

Although the seed of this idea was germinating already, it was the well written and easy to understand article by Trevor Blake, the General Manager of the Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange, From Consumer to Investor – Making the Switch Happen that has allowed me to overcome a mental block that was inhibiting me from charting the way forward.

What stood out for me in the article were these two paragraphs:

Investing is the process of using money, which we call capital, to acquire an asset in order to provide a return over time, creating wealth. These assets would include things like shares in companies, mutual funds, bonds, real estate, precious coins, rare art, antiques, or even intellectual property rights. By investing, we would be actively seeking to gain a return on our money (capital), and not merely concerned with keeping it secure.

In finance, we speak of the risk-return tradeoff, which refers to the principle that the higher the potential rate of return, the higher is the risk of loss of the capital invested. The well known adage ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’, is a variation of this principle. So, there is risk in investing, and if one can accept absolutely no loss of the capital, then one should perhaps not invest. However, there are ways to invest, and types of investment, that mitigate or reduce the potential risks, and enable a good return.

He went on to list the financial assets available in the Eastern Caribbean, and then it dawned on me, that he did not even mention the most important assets of all, the environment and its people. He has used the business as usual model that puts “banking, utilities, telecommunications, manufacturing and commerce” first, along with “corporate bonds” and “sovereign Treasury bills, notes and bonds,” but I did not see any mention of education, agriculture and health. The lens he was using puts wealth creation first from the top-down. But what if we turn this upside down, and as described in last week’s article, we start with well-being creation from the bottom-up? What if we create financial instruments and securities that help fund the advancement of health, environmental, economic, financial and political literacy, so that as individuals and as a nation we would be burdened less by disease, degradation, sovereign and individual debt, and dependency, respectively? What if we had a system, that unlike the present system that encourages us to live beyond our means for the sake of growing the economy, we have a system that teaches us not only that “our choices have consequences” but also teaches us of the “consequences of those choices.”

As we become more enlightened as individuals and as a nation, we will begin to understand the interconnections we have with each other and the environment, both now, but more importantly for the future, and we will come to actualize in ourselves, individually and as a nation the unique potentials, that is waiting to be developed. What I have written is nothing less than spiritual enlightenment, and that is why I have mentioned we need an upgraded or complimentary SIDF 2.0, (a Spiritual Investment and Development Foundation), that could be best run as a Cooperative, in which we have Investment by Citizens, that would help provide not only the necessary capital to revamp our social, cultural and educational system to make health, environmental, financial, economic and political literacy, our number one priority, but a living and breathing reality in our midst.

The most pressing issue that would benefit from this initial investment and would bring the greatest return, would be an injection of capital to help raise the level of our political discourse. I am very reluctant to give contributions to political candidates and parties, but I would be more than willing to contribute to a foundation that would:

  • fund air time on the State TV and Radio stations to have discussions on policy issues and informative debates on different visions going forward.
  • fund the invitation of experienced journalists, who would not be accused of having political bias, moderating the debates and discussions.
  • fund the services of credible economists who would outline the pros and cons of different policies with in depth analysis in a manner that the common man or woman on the street can understand.
  • fund Public Service Announcements (PSAs), that would encourage close to a hundred percent voter registration and turnout, so that the large numbers would dilute any “fraud”, if committed, or controversies, due to student and overseas registered voters, so that the numbers that vote would by and large reflect the sentiments and aspirations of the majority of us who stay behind and have to deal with consequences, via the programs and policies, of the winners of the elections.

Then after the elections, we can use this fund in raising the level of awareness, understanding and consciousness within our communities to rebuild the education, health, environmental, social and economic sectors, to make them more productive and sustainable as we as a people work together, to not only raise the standards, but also to reduce the cost of living.

Although I am not partisan to parties, I am partisan to principles, such as accountability, transparency, equality of opportunity, good governance, and focusing on the next generation, and I hope that the majority of us are like-minded. What is being heralded here can also be construed as an upgrade of the Magna Carta, to Magna Carta 2.0, which may be seen by some as an evolution, and by others as a revolution, where the divine rights of the monarchy, has not only been ceded to the politician barrons, but now becomes complete as the divine rights of individuals, families and communities to self-determination become the cornerstone of our democracy. It goes without saying, that this would effect the most complete form of emancipation of our people, from all forms of slavery, be it mental, social, economic, and political.

Many of you would think that what I am suggesting here is very risky, as we are dealing here with some “unknown unknowns.” But I beg to differ, as the risk-return tradeoff mentioned above is now turned upside down. This is effectively a “risk-free” form of investment, for the people that is, as it provides the greatest long term returns for the least risk. The well known adage now becomes, “nothing ventured, everything lost.”

SIDF 2.0 now can help us embrace the new paradigm shift, and take St. Kitts and Nevis to the next level, as we become healthier, happier individuals, families and communities, living in cleaner environments, more contented, and less focused on unnecessary and wasteful consumption. Moreover, we will be more focused on saving and cherishing the blessings that have been bestowed on us from above, and ennobled as we invest in our future with FULL CONFIDENCE.

What do you think?