The materials, workers, components, etc. used to make a product are from the local area rather than being imported.
Where I’m from – Trinidad and Tobago – it’s a small island country with 1.4 million people. Rich off of oil and gas, we spent very little to build any capacity to do anything, importing almost everything – including software.
Most of our IT people – including myself – are used to implement imported applications and hardware. So as much as possible, I try to use local providers for implementation services rather than foreign companies. It would be great to have domestic equipment, but I know that would be a challenge. But software, though, that should be something that we could have easily gotten into, but we didn’t.
We have a very small software development sector here, so I try to encourage it. If I see something local that we could use, even if the foreign competitors were significantly better, I would push for the local vendor.
But sometimes I regret the choice.
Some try to build good software, but for the most part, many don’t. They build weak architectures and interfaces, and provide terrible support. And it’s a fight with them on where issues lie – according to them, it’s always working well on their side.
I remember getting into an argument with someone who lived in the US within the startup scene when he complained about the quality of developers we have here. He said we were shit, and he needed to use external developers for quality work. My argument was that if we never give local developers the experience, they would never become better. They need the practice.
But I did agree with him about two things.
- Developers, and Trinbagonians as a whole, need to be able to take constructive criticism and learn from it. They need to stop seeing that as an attack on them and being defiant of any suggestion being offered. Always consider the advice, you don’t have to follow it if you don’t believe it’s for the best.
- We demand too much compensation for shoddy work. If you’re demanding high payment, then provide high-quality service. You need to stop being so entitled.
Even with the challenges, I will continue to try to support local content. I believe that it’s essential for the future of our nation. But the local content producers need to want to be better.