The success of the newly launched Grand Bahama Micro and Small Business Economic, Empowerment and Incentive Program was evident in the certification of the second group of potential entrepreneurs from the program on Monday, February 26, 2018, in the Office of the Prime Minister. The certification of 15 new business owners and the expectation of the program’s being extended to not just a third, but also a fourth group of individuals has brought to light what Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson has been touting all along “that small businesses will be a big part of the economic turnaround for Grand Bahama.” In addition to the 15 new self-starter businesses, eight existing businesses also received financial grants and certification to help in the growth of their already established enterprises. The businesses represented a cross-section of careers, including restaurant, pastry, and bakery, nails, and cosmetics, bone fishing, sign making, perfume making, and landscaping.
Senator Kwasi Thompson told the group of entrepreneurs that there are positive signs and good things happening in Freeport if they chose to see those positive signs. “I want to encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming,” said Minister Thompson. The Minister outlined some of the projects that are in the process of coming to fruition in Grand Bahama, which he said, will help to revamp the economy of Grand Bahama. Projects like the sale and re-opening of the Lucayan Resort, the re-started resort in West End that had once been a Ginn project, the Oban Oil Refinery project, two small projects in West End, inclusive the Sea Wood Fishing Village and the Blue Marlin Cove marina, two light manufacturing companies and other such projects. “I don’t outline these projects or bring them up to suggest that Grand Bahama has turned any corner or that Grand Bahama is doing well, but I bring them up and talk about them because we all need to know that there are positive things happening in Grand Bahama,” added Minister Thompson. “We also need to know what opportunities there are for us here in Grand Bahama. Think out of the box. Don’t limit yourself to the old ways of doing business. The good thing is that we have the access where your entire market does not have to be only people in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or even just in The Bahamas. “The entire world now can become your market.”
He said that the time has come now where Bahamians begin to think globally and think about exporting their talents and their goods and services. “You have the talent, you have the skills, to be able to compete with anyone, anywhere in the world,” added Minister Thompson. “In fact, you are the best in the world at what you do, because nobody could be Bahamian better than you and nobody can produce Bahamian better than you.” Also giving the new business owners, as well as the established entrepreneurs, some words of encouragement was Minister of Youth, Sports, and Culture, the Hon. Michael Pintard, who reminded the business owners that they have to be committed and disciplined, not just in how they manage their respective companies, but how they manage their finances. “You have to be prepared to wake up early, pray up, show up, stay late if necessary, in order to build your empire. Not everyone is an entrepreneur, so you are a unique group among hundreds of thousands in the Bahamas. “But if our economy in Grand Bahama is to recover and if the Bahamas is to grow at the rate which we believe it has the potential to grow, much of that success is going to come as a result of the efforts by people such as yourselves. So we are happy to be working in conjunction with you.”
Minister Pintard pointed out that micro and small business enterprises help to fuel the economy of countries around the world and that The Bahamas was no exception. He said that one of the things that are presently being discussed among the government and the private sector is how to obtain the number of people required by Bahamian and foreign business owners, in order to sustain those businesses. He said one of the things he and Minister Thompson discussed while putting together the program, was deciding the types of businesses they ought to fund. “The view was that we should fund businesses that have an opportunity to make it with the present population size we have,” said Minister Pintard.
“So, you are uniquely positioned because although it would benefit you to have in excess of thousands of more consumers in which to market your products and services, you have the capacity to do a volume of business that would be beneficial to you, your family and this community, right now. “We wanted to identify businesses that would be in the creative arts, businesses that would affect tourism, or that would deal with personal consumption…and all of you represent these kinds of businesses.” He admitted that every business will find itself in a competitive market, not just locally or nationally, but internationally, and with the ability to be paired with mentors who will assist them in ensuring that their respective businesses are successful.