Young entrepreneurs in Grand Bahama’s Micro & Small Business Economic Empowerment Program are one step closer to becoming full-fledged business owners. Outstanding participants of the program’s first session were on Thursday awarded government grant assistance by Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, along with Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Michael Pintard, in the conference room of the Office of The Prime Minister. “This small business initiative is designed to create new opportunities for small business development, economic empowerment, and to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit for enterprising Grand Bahamians,” said Minister Thompson, before awarding the winners, each, a certificate and a grant cheque.
“This new program is bringing to life the dream of young Grand Bahamian entrepreneurs by helping them go from business idea to business launch, and it is also facilitating the expansion of existing small business enterprises here on the Island.” Minister Thompson pointed out that the government was careful to design the Micro & Small Business Economic Empowerment Program to work in three phases, which would create the most meaningful impact on small businesses. Phase I of the Program is a two-week Business Readiness Training Course, designed to expose start-up entrepreneurs as well as existing business owners to business management best practices for the running of successful business operations.
Phase II of the Program allows qualifying candidates the opportunity to compete with business classmates for the chance to win an available business grant of up to $5,000.00 for start-up or expansion of their business ideas. “This is where all of you here have arrived,” Minister Thompson told the grant winners. “You have impressed us with your ideas, your business plans, your passion and your enthusiasm. And from here you will begin to move into Phase Three of this program.” Phase III of the Program will allow each successful grant winner to be paired with a seasoned business mentor, who will provide expert advice and guidance for his or her start-up or existing business venture over the course of the upcoming weeks. “The persons that you see seated before me today have proven in some small part that they want to be participants, not just merely spectators, for moving the economy of Grand Bahama forward; and I salute their efforts and the future roles we hope they will play within our local business community,” added Minister Thompson.
This first session of the Micro & Small Business Economic Empowerment Program was launched on November 24, 2017, by Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis. According to Minister Thompson, the winners of the grants represent just the first session of the program in Grand Bahama. The second session for new participants is expected to start shortly, on January 15. “But what is even more exciting is the fact that this program will now go national,” said Minister Thompson. “We wanted it to start here in Grand Bahama. And now this program will be offered to budding entrepreneurs and small business owners like yourselves throughout the country.” There were 20 winners: five young entrepreneur self-start grant winners — persons who have launched new business ventures; and 15 business evolution grant winners — persons who already own existing businesses and want to grow their enterprises.
Self-Starter Grant winners were Victoria Robinson (Divine Egg Farm), Wilson Joseph (Island Harvest Farm), Gabrielle McIntosh (700 Gems Marketing), Tamiko Nelson (Green Light Tropical Farm) and Jezel Gray (Sweet Addiction Bakery). Winners of the Business Evolution Grants were: Crystal McIntosh (Treat Me Sweet Cake Studio), Madelyn Bowe (Bowe’s Tailoring), La’Travalia Williams (Wing Ding), Edwin Deveaux (Gullywash Drink Stand), Anthea Lewis (At Your Pace Tours), Jonathan Bowleg (Super Jerk Pit & Grill), Donald Duncombe (Grum Ma’s House Cultural Centre), Rochelle Dickenson (Try Sum N’ Different Café), Stacy Rolle (Stacy’s Straw Shop), Shanaad Forbes (KSS Distributors), Veliante Grant (Copyright Copy Centre), Toquell Lightbourne (Timeless Photography), Zania Bowleg (The Snack Shack Convenience Store), Chassarie Bullard (Chaebul Crafts & Gifts), and Charlene Armbrister (CPA Bahamas Crafts).