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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Feb 1, 2019 - 4:07:27 PM


Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre Launched in GB
By Robyn Adderley
Feb 1, 2019 - 3:52:37 PM

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, announced the official launch of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre during a town meeting at the Bishop Michael Eldon School Auditorium, Thursday, January 31. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- Funding for micro, small and medium sized businesses is now available, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said during the launch of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre.

“Unfortunately, the dream of starting a business is often overshadowed by how much of a hassle it can be; and I can tell you from personal experience, particularly as a Grand Bahamian, the struggle is real, DPM Turnquest said at the launch held at the Bishop Michael Eldon Auditorium, Thursday, January 31, 2019.

He added, “It is true that many of the most successful businesspersons all over the world arrived at success only on their third, fourth of fifth try at success. But it is also true that in The Bahamas, we are still far from having a culture of entrepreneurship that supports small businesses and aspiring business owners.”

Also in attendance at the launch were: Jeffrey Andrews, chairman of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) Board of Directors; Gregory Laroda, president, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce; Kevin Darling, Royal Bank of Canada; David Rolle, Bahamas Development Bank; Michael Cunningham, Bahamas Development Bank; and Dr. Ian Strachan, University of The Bahamas.

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The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest (centre) along with Kevin Darling of the Royal Bank of Canada (left) and Jeffrey Andrews, chairman, Small Business Development Centre, signed an agreement enabling micro, small and medium sized businesses to access funding following training. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

DPM Turnquest said many have been trained to chase jobs rather than be self-employed and in Grand Bahama some have been expected to work for government, BORCO or at the Port, instead of opening a hair salon or plumbing business.

“Many parents are naturally looking for security for their children, and want to teach them practical skills, but in this 21st century, it is safe for young people to take bigger risks; to believe in themselves and to invest in their dreams.”

He noted that a culture of entrepreneurship needs to be created in the country and micro, small and medium sized businesses should be valued more.

“We must do this beyond helping entrepreneurs to believe in themselves. We must help them to start and grow their businesses; and we must help them to thrive.”

The DPM referred to the Access Accelerator SBDC as the vehicle to stimulate Bahamian ownership.

He said, “The SBDC is the centre stone of the Government’s campaign to stimulate Bahamian ownership, to invest in entrepreneurs and to provide micro, small and medium sized businesses the incentives and assistance needed to survive and thrive. This is a core part of our recipe to grow the economy and thereby create jobs and wealth.

“This programme is very unique because it takes entrepreneurs from inception to financing; and it provides mentorship and handholding even after new businesses have started operating.

“In the past, we have had programmes that provided entrepreneurship training, but access to capital for new businesses was nearly impossible to secure. There have been programmes that offered financing, but the mentorship was non-existent. The SBDC takes a holistic approach that considers the full range of needs that entrepreneurs have. So Grand Bahama, I want you to spread the word and put the SBDC to work, because they are here for you!”

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The official launch of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre was well attended, Thursday, January 31. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

The DPM also explained that through the SDBC, Bahamian entrepreneurs will have access to: Government Guaranteed Loans; Business Grants; and Equity Financing. Further, a large portion of the grants will be earmarked specifically for impoverished youth up to the age of 40 from the Family Islands.

“The Loan Guarantee Programme will allow Bahamians to access loan money to invest in their businesses without having to meet the traditional equity requirements. The average entrepreneur starting a business does not have a house to put down as equity or a large inheritance to put aside. The Loan Guarantee Programme will make financing accessible for participants who go through the SBDC training and advisory programme.”

He also noted that under the programme, the frustration of the lack of funding will be removed and potential entrepreneurs will have access to training and advisory services.  In addition, with the signing with the Bahamas Development Bank and Royal Bank of Canada, it is expected that banks may look differently at investing in small businesses.

The DPM introduced five entrepreneurs who have participated in the SBDC’s training and advisory programme and who have advanced to the funding stage: Petula Henfield, a pizzeria owner; Nicole Johnson, a private internment and related services provider; Sherril Bethel, a sea glass jewellery designer; Moses Pitter, a full service solar energy product manufacturer; and Kenroy Harris, who produces fresh drinking water and ice.

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